“8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
14 “ Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
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 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.” ~Luke 2:8-18
Why shepherds? What made them so special, that they were the first to receive the news? Well, I can’t claim to know the mind of God and all his numerous reasons for choosing shepherds, but several years ago, I had a thought and it been something that I joyfully meditate on each Christmas. Bethlehem lies 5 miles south-west of Jerusalem. During the time of Christ’s birth, the temple was located in Jerusalem. This temple was the place where the Jews worshiped God through sacrifices. According to the historian Josephus, there were about a quarter million lambs sacrificed during the time of the passover. A lamb, by the way is a sheep under 12 months old. So here we have shepherds, within five miles of Jerusalem, keeping watch over sheep, during what was most likely the month of October (within the week long Feast of Tabernacles. This feast is all about God dwelling with men. Thanks Mikie!).
Since the Passover was held on the 14th of Nisan, which was the first new moon of spring, we can surmise with a fair amount of accuracy that these shepherds were watching over lambs that would eventually be sacrificed during Passover. How incredibly neat is it, that those that were first told of the birth of the perfect Lamb of God, were these shepherds?
From tending lambs destined for sacrifice, the went to see the perfect Lamb, the final sacrifice.
That’s why Jesus was born. To die as a sacrifice for my sins. For your sins. To shed His perfect blood, so that you and I may stand before God. Amazing grace, indeed.