“These were no ordinary shepherds,” he said. And his words captured my attention, because, who wants to be ordinary?
We’ve been going through a sermon series on The Songs of Christmas and this past Sunday my pastor talked about the shepherds.
“These were no ordinary shepherds,” he said. “These were the shepherds who kept the flocks dedicated for the temple sacrifices. They, of all people understood what it meant to watch and wait.”
He told us that on the road to Jerusalem, close by Bethlehem, was a tower, known as Migdal Eder, the “watch-tower of the flock.” Here was the station where shepherds watched their flocks destined for sacrifices in the Temple.
In his book Sketches of Jewish Social Life, Alfred Edersheim says:
…It seems of deepest significance…that those shepherds who first heard tidings of the Savior’s birth, who first listened to angels’ praises, were watching flocks destined to be offered as sacrifices in the Temple… It was here that those who tended the sacrificial flocks, heaven-directed, found the Divine Babe— the first to see Him, to believe, and to adore. But this is not all. It is when we remember, that presently these shepherds would be in the Temple, and meet those who came thither to worship and to sacrifice, that we perceive the full significance of what otherwise would have seemed scarcely worthwhile noticing in connection with humble shepherds…we can understand the wonderful impression made on those in the courts of the Temple, as, while they selected their sacrifices, the shepherds told the devout of the speedy fulfillment of all these types in what they had themselves seen and heard in that night of wonders; how eager, curious crowds might gather around to discuss, to wonder, perhaps to mock; how the heart of “just and devout” old Simeon would be gladdened within him, in expectation of the near realisation of a life’s hopes and prayers; and how aged Anna, and they who like her “looked for redemption in Israel,” would lift up their heads, since their salvation was drawing nigh. Thus the shepherds would be the most effectual heralds of the Messiah…”
These were no ordinary shepherds. They were watching. And waiting. They had been prepared.
And as I listened to my pastor’s words, I wondered, “Haven’t we been prepared too? Haven’t I?”
Will I go and seek the Christ-child?
When the magi called on Herod, he asked the chief priests and the teachers of the law where the Christ was to be born. They knew. Hadn’t they been prepared? And yet, they did not go and seek him. Instead, these foreign emissaries went to worship him in their place.
Will I seek Christ?
The seed cannot grow if it is eaten. My heart is hungry, yes, but hungry for the fullness of the crop. And so I am asking myself what it means to seek him fully.
I am following the Star. Who wants to be ordinary?