This Sunday of advent we remember the shepherds. An angel choir sent to give the news about the birth of Jesus. Why not kings or those in the temple? But the choir of angels biggest concert is given to a handful of shepherds half asleep on a hillside.
Israel was looking a warrior to defeat the enemy. They looked for a bull. But most of the prophecy about the coming Messiah talks about shepherds. Zachariah talks about the worthless and evil leaders as worthless shepherds who destroy the flock.
Zech 10:2&3 “Therefore the people wander like sheep; they are afflicted for lack of a shepherd. “My anger is hot against the shepherds, and I will punish the leaders; for the Lord of hosts cares for his flock, the house of Judah,
Zech 11:1-17 Worthless shepherds who do not care for the flock but are even devouring the best of them. Worthless shepherds.
Jeremiah 23:1-6 “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord. Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the Lord.
Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the Lord. “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’
Jeremiah 3:15 “‘And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.”
The hope God gave to Israel was a picture of a shepherd, not a bull. On that night in Bethlehem God sent shepherds to great the great shepherd. Jesus claims this position in John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd”. Jesus is the shepherd of Jeremiah 2 & 23. But the story does not end there. Notice Jeremiah 3:15 uses a plural, “Shepherds” not shepherd. Jesus passed on the shepherd position to His Disciples and then on to all of us. You and I have been called to be shepherds to the sheep.
The question comes to us. Do we care about the people around us that are being destroyed? Do we seek out and protect the young, heal the broken? Do we provide nourishment for the flock? Or are we about our own nourishment?
God is looking for shepherds not kings. I wonder which am I, a shepherd or a king? Which are you, a shepherd or a king? If we as a church are not shepherds, then God will remove us from our place and raise up new shepherds who will care for the people.
This Christmas as we look at nativities let us remember to be shepherds not kings. Perhaps you could leave the shepherd part of your favorite nativity set out all year long in a noticeable place to remind your self that you are to be a shepherd not a king.
Let us be shepherds to the people around us, caring for those being destroyed every day. Let us protect the young, heal the broken, and nourish the rest. Let us be shepherds not kings.