“He [King Herod] called together all the chief priests and the experts in the Scriptures
and tried to find out from them where the Messiah was supposed to be born.
They told him, ‘In Bethlehem in Judea.
The prophet wrote about this:
‘Bethlehem in the land of Judah,
you are by no means least among the leaders of Judah.
A leader will come from you.
He will shepherd My people Israel.’”
Herod, an egocentric, scheming King calls on top religious leadership – ‘experts in the Scriptures’ – under the guise of wanting to worship the Messiah. But his heart was focused on removing the Messiah’s perceived threat to the King’s position.
The religious leaders knew their Scriptures, and readily shared the ancient prophecy of where the Messiah would be born. Religious top leaders, and now political top leadership knew where the Messiah would first touch the earth. Bethlehem. Considered to be least by the leaders of the land.”
In the midst of those top leaders, the ancient prophet’s words rang out. “A LEADER will come from you (Bethlehem.)” But not a political leader. Not a wealthy leader. Not a flashy or self-absorbed leader whose goals in life would be fame, wealth, or popularity. This “leader” would be a shepherd. The Shepherd of all shepherds, a drastically sharp contrast to the leaders hearing the words of that ancient prophecy.
A shepherd’s life included…
…no house to shelter him
…no pillow for his head each night
…no money to accumulate towards a better life
…long absences from a wife to care for him, love him,
…long separations from his children to snuggle every morning and night
…away for months at a time to provide good pasture for his flock
…no prospect of wealth, influence nor popularity
The ancient words spoke of a simple shepherd. A Shepherd of God’s people, His “Sheep,” with all of the struggles and dangers of that humble shepherding life. A Protector, Leader, Provider, always “on call”, always watchful. Always ready to use his simple tools – a staff, a rod – with the expertise of keeping at bay all of the dangers lurking in the shadows, watching for the opportunity to steal and devour a helpless lamb. A Shepherd who could read the stars in the night sky to navigate the sense of direction he must have. A Shepherd who understood the sweetness of a song in the silent night.
May this Christmas season find us sheltered under the loving care of our Good Shepherd.