“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
I have often marveled that shepherds were the first to receive an announcement that Jesus Christ had been born. Shepherds didn’t have the most glamorous job. They were blue collar workers that made their living by protecting, guarding, and guiding one of the dumbest animals on earth—Sheep. While even the best sheep can be stupid enough to walk off a cliff, a good shepherd must be sharp enough, strong enough, and serious enough to sacrifice whatever it takes to keep his sheep alive. God invited shepherds on the night shift to be the first to witness the birth of Jesus. God chose shepherds because he wasn’t looking for fame... Jesus came to associate with common, ordinary people. Jesus wasn’t born in a castle for a king; he was born in a stable, where shepherd would be welcome to witness the newborn king.
But I think the other reason that God chose shepherds was that Jesus himself would be a shepherd. I’m not referring to Jesus’ occupation or his relationship to sheep; I’m referring to the reason he came—his role as shepherd to his people. Jesus proclaimed, “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11). The reason that Jesus came was to give life—abundant life, and the way that he gives us this life is by being our shepherd who laid down his life for us. We are like stubborn sheep who want to go our own way—even when it means wandering into the hands of a thief who comes “only to steal and kill and destroy.” But Jesus comes to us as our good shepherd, rescuing us from our own stubborn, destructive ways, that we may have life and have it abundantly.
So as we celebrate together the advent of our good shepherd, I pray that you will find life—abundant life in the babe who was born in the manger. As you picture the nativity scene with Mary and Joseph and the angels and the shepherds, I pray that you will see yourself there with them, not as someone important, but merely as a simple, helpless sheep... and may you marvel with me that God came to us to lay down his life for ours.
He’s our shepherd.
And that’s a reason to celebrate!
The Frey Life
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"May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word." Psalm 119:74