Rev. David R. Lyle
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. (Luke 2:15-18)
Why shepherds? Surely there were other people, worthier people, to be the first visitors to the Holy Family. Their lowliness is part of the point, of course. Who better to first visit Jesus than the last people we’d expect? The last were being made first, right from the beginning of Jesus’ life.
So the shepherds go to the City of David, the ancient ancestor whose road to the throne of Israel began in the fields. As Jesse’s youngest son, David was of little account. Not much was expected of him. Not only did he grow to become Israel’s most powerful king, but he also received God’s most powerful promises. David’s life was never worthy of these promises, yet God chose to make and keep covenant with him.
To backwater Bethlehem, the shepherd’s city, these lowly shepherds come. God’s covenant with David is being fulfilled. The Good Shepherd is born for them, to gather in the scattered remnants of Israel’s flock. To seek after other sheep, too. Those who are lost and least, of no account. Even you and even me.
Let us continue our walk to Bethlehem and the baby who was born there long ago. Let us go with haste and be quick to tell others of all that we have seen and heard of this Shepherd born. It took 1,000 years for the covenant with David to be fulfilled through the coming of Jesus. But the shoot of Jesse bloomed in God’s time. His coming caught the world by surprise, God’s grace sneaking in the back door, in the middle of the night. But he came, and he remains with us now. This Shepherd still seeks the lost and gathers us in.
Good Shepherd, give us ears to hear your voice and tongues to sing your praise. Amen.