The Shepherd’s Journey

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There are two groups who visited Jesus at His birth. One was the wise men, whose journey was discussed last time. The other was the shepherds.

Like the wise men we don’t know much about the shepherds. We don’t know how many there were of them, we don’t know how old they were, we don’t know any of their names.

Exploring Jewish culture at the time we discover that shepherds in general were low paid 24/7 workers. They were assumed to be uneducated and stupid. They were looked down on by pharisees as they workers on the Sabbath (the sheep still needed care on Sabbath days).

Unlike the wise men, these men weren’t looking for signs in the stars or their lives. They were simply going about their business as usual, doing their usual thing. They had no idea that the world, their world, was about to change.

Luke 2 tells us that suddenly an angel appeared. In modern nativity stories the assumption is that this angel was hovering in the sky, but looking at other Biblical accounts of angel visitations it is more likely that this strange “man” was suddenly there, as if he’d walked up quietly behind them.

It was only after the angel appeared that the glory of God shone around them all. Once the angel gave them  the message of the birth of Jesus, then a host of other angels appeared and sang praises to God.

So here are these sheep minding men, doing their thing, probably sitting around the camp fire telling yarns and jokes when God interrupts their world and gives them an invitation. It was a simple invitation – “Come, meet my Son.”

They didn’t have to seek, prepare, pack, journey, question like the wise men. It wasn’t a laborious journey with sacrifice and cost. It was a totally different journey.

God sent an angelic messenger with an invitation that detailed who, when and where. The shepherds simply had one decision to make – do we go?

The shepherds talked among themselves. There would have been some logistics – what do we do with all the sheep? They couldn’t have taken them all into Bethlehem but maybe they were in a pen, maybe one shepherd stayed to care for them, maybe they just left the sheep in God’s care.

But aside from the sheep this was a simple expedition. It took a couple of hours – if that from their life. They simply had to go and meet Jesus.

When they met Jesus their lives were so impacted that they told everyone they met the story. And probably everyone they met for a few years or decades.

The shepherd’s journey was very different to the wise men’s journey. It was much easier. Jesus was close and easy to find. God suddenly interrupted their world with hard to miss angels. They couldn’t doubt what had happened. All the needed to do was believe and obey.

Sometimes finding Jesus is like the wise men’s journey – difficult, long, seeking. Sometimes finding Jesus is like the shepherd’s journey – suddenly He’s there, hard to miss, very close, right where you expect to find Him.

Sometimes in our lives, at Christmas or in everyday life, Jesus is easy to see, to feel, to find. Other times we have to look a little hard, search a little more, ask more questions and seek with all our hearts.

Either way Jesus is worth finding because like the wise men, the shepherds and millions more since that first Christmas Day, finding Jesus is a journey that will change your life.

Don’t wait until Christmas to find Jesus. Start your journey today.

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