15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely[a] known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.
There was a time when shepherds heard the voice of G-d through His Word and the promptings, teachings, and revelations through the power of His Spirit.
These men were the first fruits of the Messiah’s evangelistic mission, obedient, faithful and true to the announcing of the manifestation of the Gospel. Cut to modern times, and our allegorical shepherds are fulfilling Christ’s prophecy from Matthew 24:12.
11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.
We have pastors among us today who aren’t shepherds, who lead their flocks down worldly roads, not paths to salvation.
Sin is not mentioned, so repentance isn’t necessary. G-d through Christ will not judge, for He is all-forgiving, and loves everyone. There is no hell, there will be no judgment.
From some pulpits, the words of the Apostle Paul are preached in lieu of Christ. The irony is he would be the first to rebuke anyone doing so.
Prosperity preaching only profits those who espouse it.
Alternative gospels make no demands for change or repentance.
Atheists spend enormous sums of time and energy declaring that which they don’t believe in doesn’t exist. Having spoken with a number of them, I came to realize some were at one point believers who’d been betrayed or otherwise attacked in ways that shook their faith and led them into doubt, if not outright rejection.
Yet these shepherds of Christ, the first of the heralds, messengers, evangelists, and missionaries, Verse 20 says, returned glorifying and praising G-d for all they had seen and heard, as it was told to them.
Shepherds were of low birth, outcasts to society, of no status, so Father sent the most humbly positioned with the first earthly tidings in the most spectacular fashion. It ignited in them a desire to go and bear witness, then to praise and glorify G-d.
So what is the purpose of a pastor: to bear witness to that which they’ve seen and heard from the Lord, and to praise and glorify His Name to the flock. The Father tells us His Word is higher than His Name, and will not pass away. James tells us His works were known to Him from before the foundation of the world.
Humility is best achieved through voluntary means, for G-d lays low the proud. Take heed, shepherds, kings, and priests, lest He send His prophets to say:
‘Because you have done this…’
It falls to us, as believers, to also be shepherds to the lost among us.
We fail at this daily at some point, with as little as a random bad thought toward someone or a whispered profanity at a relatively minor annoyance. Driving a car in and of itself these days opens several possibilities to be a different kind of shepherd, for they were also rough men with rough tongues and manners of speech.
But their hearts were fertile enough to be tender toward the news of the Messiah’s birth, and because of this they were welcomed into places they could not otherwise visit.
So too are we, not even of the Chosen, but grafted onto the Branch of the Tree of Life through His covenant of mercy and grace toward us. He opens the gates of Heaven, as He looks at our forlorn figures, our careworn faces, full of expectant hope, and says to us:
‘I tell you the Truth: the one who believes has eternal life.’ (John 6:47)
14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.
Make sure we hear the voice of our Lord as we go out into the world we’ve been separated from spiritually. Let us be certain of our connection to Him as we go out and come in, and let there be times of refreshing.
We follow You, Lord Jesus, our Shepherd, down the narrow path. We are surrounded by the outer darkness on this side of the narrow gate, and look inside at a glorious vista to see Your two incarnations, the lion and lamb, laying side by side, as our Good Shepherd becomes our Eternal King.
Behold Your servants, Lord, and may it be to us as You have said. Amen.