When Jesus was born, there were some people who were aware of His birth. The shepherds were very important people but didn’t get much respect from the “better” classes. They spent time with sheep. That meant they often slept out in the open and probably didn’t bath quite like other people did. Were they less loved by God? No. In God’s opinion, shepherds were as important as the Pharisees or kings. The shepherds tended to the flocks that were used for temple sacrifice. The shepherds had an important part in daily Jewish life, though they weren’t in the upper class. God has never looked down upon shepherds.
It was a young shepherd boy named David who was anointed to be king of Israel. He was the youngest of the family of Jesse and had seven brothers. Can you imagine the shock that happened in Jesse’s household when the prophet Samuel showed up? Samuel was a feared prophet who had anointed Saul as king of Israel. Now, God had rejected Saul and directed Samuel to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as the rightful king. One by one, each of Jesse’s older sons was presented to Samuel, but God rejected all of them. These sons would join Saul’s army and were strong young men. That wasn’t what God was looking for.
“And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him for we will not sit down till he come hither” (1 Samuel 16:11).
It was David whom God had chosen. A young shepherd who wrote songs and played music. It was easy to forget that it was David who fiercely protected his flock from an attack by a lion and a bear. David may not have been worthy of joining Saul’s army, but it was David who had no fear in facing the giant Goliath as Saul’s army hid in the rocks. David’s brothers were in that army, but it was the lowly shepherd boy who brought down Goliath with a rock and cut off his head. God had given a prophecy that David’s throne would be forever. That’s quite a promise to a mere shepherd.
Isaiah was given several prophecies about Jesus, including “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:6-7).
A child is born… a human child born of the Virgin Mary. Human because she was human. A son is given? “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Fully God and fully man. Jesus is our salvation. He is the Good Shepherd Who came from Heaven to mingle with the sheep in order to give us everlasting life. All we have to do is believe in Him. I’m proud to be a part of His flock.
He is the Good Shepherd, but He is also King. David was a godly man who loved the Lord. He was a shepherd and a king. David was just human and sinned, but instead of covering up his sin, David went to the Lord in earnest prayer.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).
David humbled himself before the Lord and asked to be forgiven. He was. That’s what separates him from any national leader today or in history. David honored God. When the angel Gabriel came to Mary to tell her she had been chosen to give birth to God’s Son, he also told her, “And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:33).
This would fulfill the prophecy given by Isaiah 9:6-7. It’s important to study prophecy and understand that nothing that happens today is a surprise to God. The birth of Jesus came about exactly as God had foretold, even if it looked as if it was impossible. Mary was a virgin but gave birth. She lived in Nazareth but had to travel to Bethlehem where prophecy said Christ would be born. Jesus will sit on David’s throne for ever and ever. Jesus is the King of kings. He was conceived by the Holy Ghost, but that wasn’t where His existence began. The Apostle John tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:1-3).
Compare this to the creation account in Genesis chapter 1, and you’ll laugh at evolution and understand that God created all things. God stepped into His creation, in human form, to become one of us in order to save us from eternal death.
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
Jesus was fully God and also fully human. At His birth, He was worshipped by shepherds, who were tending their flocks at night when an angel appeared with an amazing announcement. “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).
The shepherds were told they would find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:13-14). The shepherds were stunned, but they went and found Jesus just as the angel had said. These men were excited and told everyone about what had happened. The shepherds were the first to find the Lamb of God, and they told others.
Sometime later, the magi arrived. There’s no Biblical affirmation of this, but tradition says they were part of a group that had been founded by Daniel centuries before. They had set out on their journey after seeing His star. “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying Where is he that is born the King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him” (Matthew 2:1-2).
Herod was king in Jerusalem, but he wasn’t born king. The arrival of the wise men angered him. He set about finding out where Christ would be born, and it was only then that the people who should have been well informed about prophecy, the chief priests and scribes, found the prophecy in Micah 5:2 that said He would be born in Bethlehem. Herod told the wise men that when they found the child to let him know where he could go worship him. He had no intention of worshipping Jesus; he wanted to murder Him.
The star reappeared and led the magi to the house where they would find Jesus. Jesus was in a “house” by this time, not a manager. This wasn’t the night of His birth.
“And when they were come into the house they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11).
Wise men always worship Jesus. These gifts financed Joseph, Mary, and Jesus fleeing to Egypt to avoid Herod’s wrath. This fulfilled a prophecy in Hosea. “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt” (Hosea 11:1). Just as the Hebrews had been captive in Egypt until God sent Moses, God’s own Son was in Egypt until Herod died and it was safe for Him to return to Israel.
So much prophecy was fulfilled, and if the religious leaders had been aware of it, things might have been different. We can also see that people haven’t changed much over the years. First, it was the Jewish shepherds who came to find the Good Shepherd, the Lamb of God. They found Him and then spread the Good News.
The Apostle Paul tells us, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).
The Shepherds weren’t ashamed of Christ and told everyone about Him. Is that how we react when we find Christ? Do we excitedly proclaim Christ to others? Do we proudly say “Merry Christmas,” or do we bow to the world and say “Happy Holidays”?
The next group to seek Christ were Gentiles, the wise men from the east. They had been watching for the signs of His birth and recognized that Christ had been born. They set out on a long journey following a “star.” This wasn’t just any star, but one which led them to find Jesus. They went to the place where they thought they would find directions to Christ; they went to the king, who went to the Chief Priests and Scribes. It’s too bad they didn’t ask the shepherds for directions. The shepherds knew where to find Jesus. The wise men went to the people who should have recognized the signs of fulfilled prophecy and should have been there worshipping Jesus. Instead, when Herod got a visit from the magi, he went to the religious leaders. Instead of seeking to worship Jesus, this government official wanted to kill Him.
Today, Christianity is illegal in many nations. And even in America, our government is trying to suppress God’s truth.
The chief priests and scribes should have been seeking Jesus to worship Him, but they were with Herod playing politics. When the wise men showed up seeking the one born King of the Jews, the priests and scribes had to scramble to find where He was to be born. Instead of going to worship Jesus, they gave the information and went back to their ignorance, probably thinking that “prophecy is vague and can’t be understood” or “prophecy isn’t for us now but for some future time.”
People have that same attitude today. Jesus doesn’t change. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8). It’s good that Jesus never changes, but Christians need to earnestly seek the Good Sheperd like the shepherds did and seek the King of kings as the wise men did.
Whether we are a shepherd or a king, we all need to find Jesus.
God bless you all,
Recommended prophecy sites:
All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God-breathed.
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“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee” (Psalm 122:6).