Bible Reading: Luke 2:8-11
Today we are going to look at those shepherds who were in the fields at night. What does a shepherd exactly do?
A shepherd is out for days/weeks at a time with his flock. He’s got a job to do – tending to those sheep. He makes sure he has all of them accounted for…no runaways or lost sheep. He makes sure they find still water to drink (cuz ya know sheep are scared of fast moving water). He corrals/gathers them up at night into a safe area, and takes turns with his fellow shepherds watching for predators, thieves, & robbers. He makes sure his flock has plenty to eat by moving them to greener pastures to graze. He names his sheep & plays with them when he’s bored. He helps the sheep cross streams, and they gather around him on the other side and bleat for joy that they are safe. He makes sure that his flock does not go where they can get into trouble. He calls his sheep by name, and his sheep recognize his call vs. the other shepherds in the field. He is their master, and the sheep follow him. See a demo of how sheep recognize the shepherd’s voice.
How does the shepherd bond with his sheep like this? How does this knowing, this loving relationship become established in the first place? It’s because the shepherd spends an enormous amount of time with his sheep. He guides them, walks with them, watches over them, plays with them, stays with them, pets & snuggles them, sings to them, talks to them, lives with them.
Does this shepherd spend a large amount of time with the rest of society. Probably not. He’s different – doesn’t really have the same social skills as everyone else. He’s on the outskirts of society. Let’s be honest – he probably stinks….covered in wet wool smell, wearing sheepskins to keep warm, sweating during the day, etc. Unless he bathes in a stream daily, he’s probably a stinky mess. Maybe the rest of society doesn’t really love him, but his sheep do…they think he smells just right.
The shepherd’s job is important. Where do you think all those sheep for the Passover feast come from? What about all those sacrificial lambs that are needed? What about the wool for yarn, rugs, carpets, & tents? Society may not like to admit it, but we need shepherds.
The shepherd has a few tools available for him to use. One is called a rod, which is like a long stick with a knot on the end – usually with several nails/spikes sticking out. This tool is used to fight off wild predators like wolves. The second tool, most Americans think of when we talk about shepherds, is the crook. It is the long stick with a hook on the end. It also can be used for fighting off predators, but is more likely to help catch lambs or sheep by the neck. Traditionally, the candy cane symbolizes the shepherd’s crook.
What is more important is that rod. The scepter used by kings since ancient times symbolizes the shepherd’s rod, since kings are considered shepherds of their people. It symbolizes protection, power, & authority. Ezekiel 20:37 – says we are going to pass under the rod. Shepherds counted their sheep as they passed under the rod, but that is also how they marked every 10th sheep as the Lord’s (Leviticus 27:32). Notice it is the staff that is mentioned in Micah 7:14:
“Shepherd Your people with Your Staff, the flock of Your heritage.” ~ Micah 7:14, NKJV
The Bible is full of references to shepherds & sheep. In fact, church “pastors” are simply our local shepherds or caretakers. In fact, Paul tells church leaders to:
“Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.” ~ 1 Peter 5:2-4, NKJV
That Chief Shepherd is Jesus. He has his own rod & staff which provides comfort to all Christians – we know He has all authority given to Him by His Heavenly Father. He is in control, and will protect us, save us, & give us comfort.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” ~ Psalm 23:1-4, NKJV
Ornament Ideas: Candy Cane
Coloring / Art Ideas:
- Related – The Nativity Tree: 25 Days of Christ
- Related – The Nativity Tree: Day 13 – Stable
- Related – The Nativity Tree: Day 15 – Cow
- Related – December Bible Verse Bookmarks