“The shepherds are missing,” my daughter said with a perplexed look on her face.
The week before we’d gone through her Christmas box and she’d pulled out a few things she wanted to take with her―her childhood nativity set being part of the haul.
Later when she went through them, she discovered the problem.
“Let me see if they were put away with your brother’s set.” I sifted through a box of ornaments and found Aaron’s nativity, but his didn’t have shepherds either. Could it be they were never part of the set?
I scouted around to my assorted sets and found not one of them included shepherds―only wise men.
I guess from an historical perspective, you have to choose. The shepherds and the wise men were never in each other’s company. One can deduce from scripture that the shepherds followed the star to the stable to worship the baby Jesus on His birth. But it is not clear how much time elapsed until the Magi arrived. Some historians say ten days, others claim as much as two years elapsed.
So, I guess all the nativity set makers decided to go with the more flashy wise men and rather than a shepherds only scene.
Poor shepherds. Scared out of their minds by an angel who made the amazing announcement about a Savior being born. The NIV uses the word terrified, which is supported by the original Greek. Then the heavenly hosts show up. Mercy. These men were probably not the sheep’s owners but rather hired to do the work, a job not highly regarded in that day―pretty low on the food chain. But it was to these almost-outcasts that God decided to make this grand announcement. They rose to the occasion and found the Bethlehem baby. Luke 2:20 reports they returned to their sheep herding, “…glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”
They went. They saw. They told.
For all this, they are left out of nativity sets because they wore ratty clothes.
The case of the missing shepherds speaks today. Sometimes God will ask us to do something and we may be unlikely candidates for the job. Like the shepherds, we may be terrified at the outset and not very flashy in appearance. However, like them we need to rise to the occasion. We need to follow through.
Also, like them, no one may award us a certificate of achievement or make a little ceramic statue of us. What God has asked us to do may seem mostly forgotten, at least on this side of heaven.
On the other side, it’s a whole different story. I imagine the shepherds might have a front row seat on the other shore. And God made sure that we would know their story by including it in Luke’s gospel.
Yes, in the temporal, they may be left out, but in the eternal, they are present and accounted for.
Be encouraged. In the case of the missing shepherds, they are not missing at all.
Neither will what you do for Jesus be forgotten, either.
Merry one week before Christmas!!
I'm so excited to share the cover of my new book releasing in January,
A Plan for Everything!
It is the sequel to, A Key to Everything available HERE.