The Characters of Christmas – The Shepherds


Many people use the fact that the shepherd were in the fields watching their sheep as proof that Jesus could not have been born on December 25. Actually, since we are never told why the shepherds were in the fields that night, any reason proffered is pure speculation. Why were they in the fields at night instead of in the sheep folds? We are never told why. Perhaps it was because of all the Roman soldiers in the area. The Roman soldiers were known to take by force what they wanted so perhaps the shepherds were out in the fields to keep the sheep away from the soldiers. In that case they might have been in the fields with their sheep cold or not. At any rate the shepherds were in the fields watching the sheep. Each day was spent making sure the sheep got the food and water they needed; each night watching the sheep sleep undisturbed by thieves or marauding beasts. One day ran into the next with very little change to the routine.

Then came that special night. The shepherds were watching their sheep sleep keeping active sheep from wandering away from the herd. The night sky became as bright as day and a person appeared out of the light. Understandably the shepherds were terrified. Where did this bright light come from? Who was this person who stands before them? Is he friend or foe? The person spoke, “Do not be afraid…” After this speech the sky was filled with more beings like the first one singing and praising God. Then they disappeared and the light faded to night once more. When the shepherds found their voices they discussed what they heard. The Messiah, the Christ, has been born. They left their sheep and hurried to Bethlehem. They left their sheep in the hands of God and ran to behold the miracle of the birth of the Son of God.

We are not told how many stables with mangers there were in Bethlehem. The shepherds may have gone right to the one where Mary and Joseph were, or they may have had to search for it. When they found “the Babe lying in a manger” they told Mary and Joseph all that happened to cause them to search for the baby Jesus. We do not know how long the shepherds stayed with Mary and Joseph. At the time they left the stable, people were stirring in the town of Bethlehem; and the shepherds told everyone they met about their experience with the angels and going to see the Christ, the Son of God. The people marveled at the shepherds’ message possibly thinking the shepherds were going a bit loony spending too much time with their sheep. Mary, however, pondered everything the shepherds told her and kept their sayings in her heart.

The shepherds returned to their fields glorifying and praising God worshiping Him for letting them be one of the first to get the birth announcement of His Son. This was a sure sign that God sent His Son to the humble, the lowly, the common man.

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  1. […] More: The Characters of Christmas – The Shepherds […]

  2. […] The Characters of Christmas – The Shepherds (customsofchristmas.wordpress.com) […]


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