The Shepherds Kept Their Watching…

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?

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

 With my sweet friend Jennifer today:

and with Jen:

And Michelle:



  1. says

    Yup, I want more. I want more of Him in the intimacy of discovery between the two of us. I want to live by His Spirit each day…moving and having my being poured forth in love from my abiding with Him. What He has for me is so intimate and extraordinary…specifically between us. Pursuing the intimacy of close whispers between two joined in love. He is now the star we can look for..all around us. Love still shines bright today.

  2. says

    I thought they were ordinary too.

    I gained comfort in knowing that Jesus came for even the ordinary folk like shepherds.

    I guess there is something there for me to meditate on.

  3. says

    That was very interesting about the shepherds…never knew they were that specialized…the poetry of it since they were told of the ultimate sacrificial lamb’s birth…the final sacrifice for sin…that was deep, Laura…Thanks!

  4. says

    Reading this — reading that verse there at the end — I couldn’t help but picture you and I and a bunch of bleating animals on a hillside. And in this mental picture, you turn to me to say: “Let’s go see this thing that has happened…”

    It reminded me, right then, of when — while driving to Laity this fall — you said, “Let’s go to Jesus now and pray …”

    You’re a star-chaser, dear friend. You point to Him. You follow Him. I want to go where you’re going, because I know I’ll find Him there.

  5. says

    I love getting extra information like that, to understand that those are no ordinary shepherds. Thank you so much for sharing your pastor’s insights and the passage from that book.

  6. says

    What an incredible insight to share… I’ve never heard this background on the shepherds before. It definitely puts their experience of Christ’s birth in a new perspective. Thank you for your gift of words today Laura… blessed as always! 😉

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