The Shepherds and the Sacrifice

By Mendi Behnen

Each year at Christmas our family reads from Luke 2:4-20. This is likely a passage with which you are also very familiar. It tells of the birth of Jesus and verse 8 tells us, “In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.”

The fields outside of town in the region of Bethlehem is where you would find the shepherds who birth the Paschal lambs, the spotless, unblemished lambs which would become a sacrifice for the Passover celebration. It seems that when the first-born lambs were birthed, they were swaddled in cloth and laid in shallow place hewn in a rock which could be called a manger to protect them and ensure they were unharmed and remained unblemished.

This is the region of Bethlehem, where Jesus came to us as a baby. As the angel spoke to the shepherds in the fields of that region, we see in verses 11-12, “…for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Surely these shepherds, who oversaw the birth of the sacrificial lambs, could not have missed the significance of the Savior, swaddled in cloths and lying in a manger. We should not be surprised to read in verse 16, “So they came in a hurry”. They were anxious to see the Savior and in verse 17, “When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.”

As you approach your Christmas celebrations this year, I want to encourage you to go back and read Luke 2:4-20 again, only this time as a shepherd. Receive the good news of great joy which is for all people.  If you do not know the Savior, Christ the Lord, please hurry to find Him. If you know Him, tell others the Truth of this Child born in Bethlehem. Tell them how He came to earth and humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Why? God loved the world so much that He gave His Son to be the unblemished once-and-for-all sacrifice for your sin and mine. May you receive this sacrificial gift with gratitude this Christmas season!

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