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The Shepherds
Tuesday, December 24, 2019 by Paula Kortkamp Combs

It was night time in the quiet Judean hills surrounding first century Bethlehem. As a youth, King David had tended his father’s sheep in these same rocky fields, under the same bright stars. On this night shepherds were gathered around small campfires. Soon they would spread their tattered robes on the cold, hard ground to sleep. Their sheep were huddled together for the night, the newborn lambs snuggled safely within the flock. These particular lambs were destined to be Passover lambs. They had been born to die.

An angel appears

Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. The shepherds froze in terror.

“Don’t be afraid!’’ the heavenly messenger reassured them. "I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! The Savior – yes, the Messiah, the Lord – has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David! And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!"

An angel choir sings

Before the shepherds could react, a vast host of angels joined the messenger. To their amazement, the angelic armies of heaven instantly filled the sky’s immeasurable expanse. In beautiful harmonies unknown to man, the heavenly choirs sang glorious praises to God for the birth of His Son in Bethlehem. "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth for all those pleasing God," they sang. It was the most unusual concert ever heard on this earth. Then as quickly as it began, it was over, and the angels were gone.

Shepherds on the run

The shepherds looked at one another, stunned. When they were able to speak, they said, "Come on, let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

Quickly they ran into the village of Bethlehem and went straight to the stable. There they found Mary and Joseph. And there they saw the Baby, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth and lying in the feeding trough of the animals, just like the angel had said. To think that this helpless newborn resting on straw was the Savior of mankind, the long-awaited Messiah, the Lord Himself was truly amazing.

Shepherds tell the news

The shepherds were so excited that they told everyone they saw what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this Child. And everyone who heard their story was astonished. Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and thought about them often.

The shepherds went back to their fields and flocks, glorifying and praising God for what the angels had told them and because they had seen the Child. (Luke 2:8-20 NLT)

Passover lamb and good shepherd

"Mary had a little Lamb," and He was born to die. His birth was first revealed to shepherds, men who cared for Passover lambs, also born to die. Shepherds were the first to worship the Baby destined to become the Good Shepherd.

Today’s prayer

Dear God, like the shepherds and the angelic choirs, I, too, praise You for the birth of Your Son, Jesus. Thank You for Your precious Lamb, born to die – for me. Amen.

© Paula Kortkamp Combs 1998

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