The night was quiet. A soft cool breeze stirred the air. The sound of sheep baaing keep silence at bay, but didn’t disturb the shepherds in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night.
Suddenly, an angel appeared announcing the birth of a baby in Bethlehem, who was the Savior of the world. The shepherds were stunned. Then the dark sky filled with light as heavenly hosts sang out a chorus praising God.
When their eyes adjusted back to the black of the night, Luke 2:15-16 says, “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.’ And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger” (NKJV).*
Little did these humble shepherds know they were about to greet the one who would one day call Himself the Good Shepherd. A king humble enough to connect with the ordinary people around Him. People like shepherds. In John 10:14 Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.”
The Good Shepherd Knows His Sheep
Sometimes I wonder if even as a baby, Jesus was aware of His surroundings. Maybe as the God of the universe in the flesh, He actually remembered the adoration of the simple shepherds. Even though sheep are stupid animals, the shepherd knew all of His sheep by name and slept in the doorway to block out thieves and wild wolves who could attack the sheep in the night. Jesus was not born high and mighty into a throne room of a palace, but laid His head in a lowly manger. He could identify with the hardships of the people, not disdaining their pain, but entering it from the moment He was conceived to live on earth.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd because He cares for His sheep. Psalm 23 tells the story of how the Lord is our Shepherd, so we don’t want. He seeks good things for His sheep and protects them from the dangers of life. He leads them by still waters so they didn’t wash down the river when trying to drink water. Even when they passed through the valley of the shadow of death, the sheep had nothing to fear. They only had to follow their Shepherd through, and His rod and staff would keep them safe from any attacks.
The Good Shepherd Sacrificed Himself for His Sheep
Not only did Jesus care for His sheep during His life, He saved them through His death. There is no way the lowly shepherds could have fathomed that this baby Jesus was born to die on a cross. John 10:11 says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” Jesus is our Good Shepherd because He willingly chose to lay down His life so that we could be reconciled to the Father. Apart from His sacrifice, there was no way the perfect blood could be spilled to pay the debt we owed for our sins.
This Christmas, may we be like the shepherds who ran to see the baby that the angels proclaimed as the Son of God. May we marvel at His humble beginnings that paved the road to His cross on Calvary and then final victory over the grave. I’m so thankful for the Good Shepherd who gave His life for me.
*All Scripture is from the NKJV version.
Joanna Eccles has led Bible studies for over ten years and completed the year-long C. S. Lewis Fellows Program. She is passionate about discipleship and helping people know God better. Joanna enjoys coffee, traveling, and reading, and currently lives in Virginia.