My name is David. I am a shepherd in the service of the temple. The other shepherds and I watch over the sheep during the night on the fields outside of Jerusalem, not too far from the road that goes to Bethlehem.
I am no ordinary shepherd because the temple sheep are no ordinary sheep. These sheep are without spot or blemish. My job is to protect them, so they stay that way. They are the chosen ones, set apart from all the other sheep, that will be sacrificed in silence. The temple priests will collect their blood and offer it as a covering for sins, just as the Law of Moses requires.
One of us sits in a tower from which we can see the entire flock. The rest of us sit among the sheep to keep them calm and to be ready to protect them from predators.
I am no ordinary shepherd because I have seen the glory of the Lord. I have been telling everyone I know – and even people I don’t know – about what happened. I know this is going to sound crazy, and you may not believe me, but it is true, and you really need to believe it
This one, particularly dark night was unfolding as usual—nothing to write home about. Then, without warning, something happened that frightened us like nothing ever had before nor has since.
An angel – a real angel from Heaven – appeared and stood before us. As he did, the glory of the Lord pierced the darkness and shone around us with indescribable brilliance. Do you think we were scared? No! We wereTERRIFIED!
I still remember shaking in my sandals. I was scared stiff!
Until the angel assured us that we need not be afraid. I think I know now how Isaiah felt back in the year when King Uzziah died!
I am no ordinary shepherd because I heard good news that has caused great joy for the whole world. That’s why the angel told us not to be afraid. He hadn’t come to frighten us or harm us. He came to calm us.
Before I get ahead of myself, here is the good news:
Our long-awaited Savior, our Messiah, had been born! Seriously! Jehovah had kept His promise! Just like He always does.
It turns out that we were probably the only ones the angel told. How do I know this? Because he told us where the Messiah was! He had just been born in Bethlehem. While we were still trying to comprehend the stunning sights and sounds, a band of countless angels led us in giving glory to God. It was the largest and best praise and worship team I have ever seen or heard.
I am no ordinary shepherd because I have seen Jesus. After the angels had gone, the sky became dark again, and none of us could seem to get even a jot or a tittle in edgewise as we stumbled over each other with our own words of amazement.
Once we were able to get our wits about us, we agreed that, given what we had just experienced, we ought to go to where the angel said Messiah would be.
Sure enough, there he was, in a manger in a stable in nearby Bethlehem. His mother, Mary, had wrapped him in swaddling clothes. Did you know that we sometimes wrap our sheep in swaddling to protect them at night? We do!
The baby looked so calm and innocent wrapped up in sheep’s clothing, I felt as though he was, himself, a little lamb. It was a sight to behold.
While I pondered these things, I rejoiced that, unlike my temple sheep, this little lamb would not have to suffer and die to pay for our sins.
How could I have been so wrong?
I am no ordinary shepherd because I know Jesus. I was just a young man back then. More than 30 years had passed before I realized that that little baby had died for my sins. In fact, he took upon himself the wrath of God as his innocent blood poured down a cross to redeem me.
How was I to know that the Lord God loved us so much that he gave his only begotten Son to bear our punishment or that, by believing in him, his death, burial, and resurrection, I could be free from condemnation and made righteous in his eyes?
I lost my job watching over the temple sheep soon after he died because there was no longer a reason to sacrifice sheep. Jesus had become the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.
I have to admit that I was confused the day that he died. I was having a hard time putting all the pieces together, so a friend and I decided to get out of town for a while until we could see things more clearly.
We were walking along the road to Emmaus when, just as suddenly as the angel had appeared, a stranger came alongside us and began walking with us. It was him – Jesus. The baby we had seen in Bethlehem. But that’s another story.
I have spent my life telling others about the night Jesus was born, but I also tell them about why he was born and how, by trusting Him as Lord and Savior, they can be free forever from the bondage of sin and its condemnation.
When you celebrate Jesus’ birth this season, please remember why he came. And, please, share the good news with everyone, just like we did the night Jesus was born.