Who Talks about the sheep at Christmas?
This time of year everyone that knows the Christmas Story talks about the shepherds. But who talks about the sheep?
Luke 2:8–9 (ESV)
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.
Shepherds are important, they are critical to the telling of this story, but these sheep… they were the reason the shepherds were out in the field that night after all.
Sheep are not the brightest, there are tons of pastors with great illustrations about stupid sheep out there. I think we can all agree that they are not the smartest animals and I would insult you to bring up the countless illustrations. Just a few observations.
Sheep need a shepherd.
- They need to be protected.
It isn’t just about the big bad wolf! Yes David the shepherd boy in the Bible talked about killing the bear or the lion that were after his sheep ( 1 Samuel 17:34 ), but what the story doesn’t tell is the hours of care needed to get the sheep to the point of needing protection. The trimming and sheering, the nurturing protection from illness, the leading…
- They need to be led.
Yeah, sheep are great imitators, they need to be led though to know what they are supposed to do. They have some serious challenges to overcome because they will even stand still to the point of freezing to death, unless someone leads. The sheep know the voice of the shepherd. ( John 10:27 ) They know leadership when it calls to them. Sheep need to know when they are loved.
- They need to be loved.
One of the greatest parables (if it was even possible to rank them) is the One and Ninty-Nine. The story is that the shepherd loves the sheep to the point he is willing to risk life and limb in order to pursue a single lost sheep to the edge. Sheep need someone to love them. Not just through the cute and cuddly lamb stage but all the way through the mud and excrement burr matted fur of the lost and the run away. ( Matthew 18: 12-14 )
What about the shepherds?
Scripture is quite clear about the leadership of the elders in the church.
1 Peter 5:1–4 (ESV)
So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
To the sheep this Christmas, thanks for making the shepherd stay in the fields.
To the shepherds this Christmas, the requirements… the long hours and longer nights are worth the opportunity to see the Glory of the King of kings.