Read This: Luke 2:1-20
If you’re telling the story of Jesus, why mention a census? Two reasons. First, it places the story at a specific point in history. Second, it solves a location problem.
PROBLEM: Mary, the mother of Jesus, lived in Nazareth. The Messiah was supposed to be born in Bethlehem.
SOLUTION: Caesar Augustus ordered all Jews to their ancestral homes for a census. Since Mary and Joseph were descendants of David, they moved to Bethlehem just in time for Jesus’ birth.
Now God’s Son is in the right place, ready to be born. The Creator of the world is about to arrive in person, on earth. Who should God invite to His birthday party?
Really? Shepherds were the bottom rung of the social ladder. Uneducated, unskilled, and unclean. They were lowly, humble people. Why shepherds?
It makes sense if you consider what shepherds do. They take care of sheep. Or, in the cases of Moses and David, they take care of people (Exodus 3:1-10; Psalm 78:70-72). Which brings us back to Jesus Christ. According to the prophet Ezekiel, the Messiah will become God’s appointed Shepherd over His people. Here’s a preview* of what He will do for them . . .
- strengthen the weak
- heal the sick
- bind the wounds of the injured
- bring back the strays
- search for the lost
- rescue the scattered in times of darkness
- provide good pasture
- make sure we have rest, peace, and abundant food
- exercise justice
- eliminate abusers
- discipline those who take the best and spoil what’s left
- deal with bullies who plunder, butt, and shove
- rid the land of predators
- provide freedom from fear
- bless the sheep
That’s what shepherds do. No wonder God invited them to His Son’s birthday party!
* Taken from Ezekiel 34, a prophetic passage about the Messiah.