Rev. & Mrs. Kenneth Fellenbaum

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Milford, Connecticut, United States

Bible Verse of the Day

Monday, December 20, 2010

Why Shepherds

Have you ever wondered why the announcement of the birth of Jesus Christ was made by the angels to shepherds? Jesus was born in Bethlehem, a small village six miles southwest of Jerusalem. Bethlehem is known as the "Town of David" but it was not to royalty that the announcement of the new King's birth was made. Herod, the King of the Jews, learned about the birth through the Wise Men who were visitors from the East.

Bethlehem means "House of Bread." Nearby the village is the fields where Boaz, Ruth and others raised wheat and barley. However, it was not to farmers that the announcement was made of the birth of the One who would be known as "The Bread of Life" (John 6:35). Even a small hamlet like Bethlehem must have had some merchants who made a living through trade. There are certainly plenty of such shops today for pilgrims and tourists to frequent. The announcement of Jesus' birth was not made to merchants, farmers, or royalty but instead to several lowly shepherds. Why? I believe the answer is found in the prophecy of Micah 5:2-4 (also recorded in Matthew 2:6). "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel." The announcement of Jesus Christ's birth was made to the shepherds because the One who was going to be the Shepherd of Israel had come. (Isaiah 40:10-11 and Matthew 9:36).

Psalm 23 beautifully describes the work of a shepherd. Jesus also elaborated on the shepherd and his flock in John 10. A shepherd or pastor cares for his flock. He sees that the sheep have plenty of green grass and clean water. He leads them from one place to another. From time to time he has to retrieve a sheep that has strayed from the rest. Sometimes they need to have their wounds bound up and to be carried. The shepherd also protects his sheep from wild animals and thieves--anything that might harm the sheep. Jesus Christ is the "Great Shepherd of the sheep" (Hebrews 13:20) and he is the "Chief Shepherd" (1 Peter 5:4) who has come and will in the end reappear. God, our Creator, who knows us and our needs has sent us a Shepherd--One who has laid down His life for us (John 10:11).

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