December 13: Read Luke 2:6-18 ESV

Did you know that there are 2 theories about the shepherds that are visited by the angels and visit Baby Jesus? Over the next two days we are going to look at both theories and what either can tell us about the journey and about the Messiah.

Let’s start with the Levitical Shepherds. According to Jewish law and tradition, it was forbidden to keep sheep so close to a town unless they were special sheep. If these are special sheep, then they need to be shepherded by special shepherds—Levitical shepherds—who tend the flock used for sacrifices in the temple in Jerusalem. This would mean that if these were Levitical Shepherds, they have just been informed of the NEW sacrificial lamb, the FINAL lamb, the perfect sacrifice!

Just in case the Levitical Shepherds didn’t put it all together at that moment, there was one other key to reference: the swaddling clothes. Again, we must look at Jewish tradition and context where sacrificial lambs were bound in swaddling clothes to protect them from injury, since law required them to be blemish-free. The Levitical Shepherds were in charge of making sure the lamb stayed free of defect so it could be an acceptable sacrifice to the Lord. 

If the shepherds the angels visit in the field are these special Levitical Shepherds, then once they journeyed to see the baby in the manger, they would have put all the pieces together. The angels tell of the Savior, the one who will come to SAVE the people of God—the perfect sacrifice. The sign for them to be sure was the swaddling clothes, a tool they knew intimately because they used it all the time to wrap baby lambs to keep them pure and safe from harm.

Sometimes the journey isn’t so much about the places we go, but when God uses the things, we are familiar with to teach us something new. He can turn an idea we have known for so long on its side and help us to see it a new way, with new eyes, in a new light. If we are listening.

Prayer: Today, Lord, help me to listen to you and see the gift of your Son in a new light. Reveal how you are working and have been working to get me to where I am now, so I may rejoice in the journey.

Reflection Questions

The angels told the shepherds about baby Jesus being born. In verse 15 the shepherds said, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see.” 

When you heard about Jesus the first time or when you hear about the things that he has done, how did you respond? 

During Advent, are you moving closer to the manger and looking at Jesus face to face?

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