Monday, December 13, 2021

Shepherds in a Manger

Yesterday, I wondered if the shepherds were more like us, wouldn't they have gone knocking at the inn after following the star? Certainly, they had to believe that anything worth happening would be happening in the inn. 

But maybe God chose shepherds precisely because they are not like us. 

Shepherds, traveling through an area, would likely have gone straight to the manger. They would have naturally gone first to the place where the animals board, probably because they might have had their own animals with them to board!

There is nothing in the Luke account that tells us that the shepherds left their flocks unattended in the fields. There is nothing in the Gospel that tells us that the shepherds, who were faithful enough to follow a star, were unfaithful to their own flocks. In fact, the way that the Gospels like to tell us that shepherds are a good thing - that Jesus is the good shepherd - means that maybe we've been picturing this whole shepherd visit thing incorrectly for far too long. 

Maybe...maybe it wasn't just a few men who showed up that night. Maybe...maybe it was a few men and few hundred sheep. Can you picture that?

And if these men showed up with a few hundred sheep, then they had to go straight to the manger. They had to go straight to the place where there might be a servant-attendant to drop their sheep off with. They probably rehearsed their story along the way, what they were going to tell the guy when they showed up in the middle of the night with hundreds of sheep behind them. 

"Uhm, hey...." 

Doesn't that change the story of Christmas just a little?

This is how the star led them straight to Jesus. It's because they were a people not quite like us, not exactly like us, who would not have gotten so far as the inn, which would have been the first place that we ran. These shepherds came to the manger and saw that everything they were searching for was right there, right in the first place that they looked. Right exactly where the star had led them and not just somewhere in that general area, not somewhere more expected or accepted but right exactly in the manger. 

Which means...not only did the star lead them there, but also, their faithfulness did. The fact that these men would not abandon their responsibility, would not just leave their sheep - the fact that they were good shepherds led them straight to the Good Shepherd, even if they didn't know it at the time. 

And isn't that a beautiful image? The newborn baby Jesus already surrounded by sheep who would hear His very first cries, who would know what His voice sounded like from that very first morning? That's so cool. That's so God. 

That's so Christmas. 

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