Lessons from the Shepherds

As I was reading through the Christmas story found in Luke 2, I was struck by how the shepherds play such a prominent role. They are the first to be told about the birth of Jesus.  This is remarkable because by the world’s standards they weren’t seen as all that important. They belonged to one of the lowest socio-economic classes, and their testimony wasn’t accepted in a courtroom. Yet, God “chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are” (1 Cor.1:28). When God chose to reveal the news of the Messiah’s birth, he revealed it first to the shepherds.  Even more remarkable is their response. In it, we can learn some lessons about how we should respond to the Lord not just at Christmas, but all year long!  First, we see the shepherds …

1) Obeying

As soon as the angels announce the good news about the birth of Christ, they say, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about” (Luke 2:15). The next verse adds how they “hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger” (Luke 2:16).

This group of shepherds are an example of obedience.  I wonder if we would have been as obedient? Would we have gone to Bethlehem in the middle of the night like they did?  Let’s not miss the fact that their obedience leads to the incredible blessing of meeting Jesus and enjoying his presence. Whenever we respond to God in obedience, we draw closer to the Lord and reap untold blessings. Is there something God has been calling you to obey? Maybe it’s in the area of giving? Maybe it’s a good habit to start, or a bad habit to stop?  What I’ve come to realize is that most of us don’t need to hear more truths, we just need to obey the truths we already know. Next, we see the shepherds…

2) Witnessing

The story goes on, in Luke 2:17-18 to explain how, “When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.” They did what all Christians should do. They spread the word about Jesus, explaining what they’d seen and heard. What the shepherds did, you can do if you are a follower of Christ. You need no special training to witness for Christ. Simply tell what you know to be true. Talk about Jesus with others. Tell who he is and what he has done for you. Share about how his life, death, and resurrection make peace with God possible. Invite someone to church so they can hear the message of the gospel. Good news is for sharing. That’s what the shepherds did. That’s what all of us are called to do. Finally, we also see the shepherds…

3) Worshiping

Luke 2:20 mentions how, “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” As a result of meeting with Jesus, they responded in praise. The text does not say that they glorified God in the temple, though that would have been appropriate.  Rather it says they returned to the hills where the angels had visited them.  They went back to the tiring and unappreciated work of caring for sheep. It is wonderful to worship God when we gather together on Sundays, but we can and must find ways to worship the Lord where we spend the moments of each day. Christmas didn’t change the circumstances of the shepherds, but it did change them. They had a new song of worship on their lips and a new heart of praise flowing from their soul.  May the same be true of us this Christmas. As we take the time to meet with Jesus, may it ignite a heart of worship.

Categories Devotionals | Tags: , | Posted on December 11, 2023

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