In the social structure of Jewish life, shepherds were on the bottom. Deemed by the upper classes as men of no consequence and as unclean under the law of Moses, the shepherds were nevertheless saviors to the sheep. Besides assisting in the births, they nourished, gathered, comforted, and protected their flocks, sometimes risking their own lives to defend the sheep. Thus Jesus became known as The Good Shepherd. But besides being a beautiful metaphor it points out the deep irony that the Good Shepherd was considered by the Pharisees and Sadducees as a man of no consequence while in the very act of protecting and saving them.
|Gerard (Gerrit) van Honthorst (1590�1656), Adoration of the Shepherds|
(Die Anbetung der Hirten, Adorazione dei Pastori, 1622). 164 x 190 cm,
How fitting that the angelic announcement, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11), was made that natal night to humble men serving the needs of sheep that would be sacrificed in similitude of the Lamb of God.
But that has not changed. It is still to those who are feeding His sheep that He reveals Himself. It is to those who serve his flock that the testimony is revealed—the testimony that all who are unclean have a Savior and can come forth from the darkness of their tombs into the Light of Life.