Wednesday, December 21, 2011

the irony of the Christmas story ~ the shepherds

I want to share two (2) thoughts with you that I find rather ironic, surprising if you will,  about the shepherds and the Christmas story.  I love God’s sense of humor. 

Did you know that Bethlehem was right ‘under the nose’ of King Herod?   I didn’t, until a few years ago. 

The Herodian, the largest fortress-palace of the ancient world was built on the highest point of the Judean Desert.  It literally looked down on Bethlehem.  The Herodian could be seen from anywhere in Bethlehem.  It would have been a rather formidable symbol of King Herod’s power hanging over the city.  It has been said that the shadow of the Herodian moves across Bethlehem as the sun sets. 

What do you think these the shepherds thought as they passed this palace of King Herod to find “the king” in a manger in a dirty cattle stall? 

I wonder if they were afraid? 
Afraid of Herod if he should find out.
The angels had certainly frightened them. 
I like to think they were so fill with excitement (and an adrenalin rush) that they didn’t have any fear of Herod that night. 

We do not know if Herod was in that palace that night, but I like to think that as Herod slept overlooking Bethlehem, the Savior of the world was being born below him. 

“The contrast between Herod and Jesus is nowhere clearer
than in the contrast between the fortress and the stable.
It reminds us that God uses weakness, lack of status,
and even things that appear foolish
to show that it is HIS strength that accomplishes His purpose.
Even though evil may be strong,
God has the ultimate power and authority.
The real power was found in the manger
Trust that power and you cannot fail.”

Ray Vander Laan  “That The World May Know”

The next thing that I find ironic about the shepherds is that they were in the place with Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus.  Yet in that culture they were considered ‘unclean’.  They would not have been allowed in the temple to worship God. 

They worked with animals.  They took care of sick animals, cared for their open sores, and sometimes handled dead carcasses of other animals.  Because of this they were ‘unclean’. 

And yet – here we see the shepherds rushing into town in all their excitement and going right up to the baby Jesus - the King of Kings. 

They wouldn’t have been allowed into the temple, but I like to think they were holding Jesus.  Touching Jesus.  The son of the God they were not allowed to go worship.  

I smile every time I think of that.  The lowest of the low are the ones that God chose to first hear the news of the birth of his son.  And yet - according to the religious of the day they were not fit to enter the temple. 

Do you know what that means? 
He came for the lowly
He came for the poor
He came for those that the "religious" of the day may not think are fit.
He came for everyone
Even the shepherds.
Jesus came for me!
Jesus came for you!

Friday I will share two (2) more thoughts about the Christmas story that I find ironic and surprising. 


  1. Janet,
    This is such a beautiful reminder of our loving God's grace and mercy and of how much God loves all of us. He is the "reason for the season." Rejoice, indeed!

  2. Thanks for the beautiful post written about the lowly shepherds. I like that they were the first to see the precious baby Jesus!!! HOPE your CHRISTmas is full of happy blessings!

  3. Janet, thank you for these thoughts on the shepherds. You "networked" with me and I am so glad to come over and have these thoughts on my heart tonight. I read your "about me." Thank you for sharing your struggles and how you made it through it all. I'm sorry that your son had to leave for heaven before you. I pray God's peace for you family this Christmas.

  4. Very reflective and thoughtful! I hadn't looked at it quite this way and always appreciate a differing perspective. Thank you for leaving a comment on my blog and for your prayers! Blessings and love to you this Christmas season!

  5. I appreciate your visits and the comments you leave. And I appreciate the thoughts you share through your writing. Christmas blessings to you!

  6. Thanks for stopping by my blog today. Interesting insights here . . . especially about the shepherds being unclean.

    Enjoyed you beautiful family slide show, too.

    Merry Christmas,

  7. I didn't know Herod was so close...very ironic! I will forever look at Jesus birth differently thanks to you.
    Christmas Blessings to you and yours,

  8. I agree with Susan, and I so appreciate the comments you leave for me at my blog. Thank you!

    And thanks for this post. Just when we think we've God and His ways all figured out, huh?