Refresh: Open with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Luke 2:8–20 in The Message (MSG). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: I wonder if you, like me, upon reading this passage now for the third time this week, just can't help but ask why God chose shepherds to visit Joseph and Mary. Was it because Jesus was born in a manger? Was it because Jesus was among animals? Was it because no one else would have been interested in hearing the incredible news that Jesus, the Savior of the universe, had arrived to complete this pivotal chapter in the story of the Great Controversy?
My personal explanation is multi-faceted. Not only is there something beautifully pure and simple about the shepherds arriving to worship the newborn Jesus, but the fact that God chose them and not bakers or bankers or barbers, is a significant part of the story. The shepherds on the hills of Bethlehem served the temple in Jerusalem. Every single day, for both the morning and evening sacrifices, a lamb was required. Every year at Passover, and for any other festivals or offerings, sheep were needed for sacrifice. These sheep had to be the best available. The shepherds were effectively employees of the temple. They were in constant connection with the sacrificial system that pointed to the eventual arrival of the true Lamb of God. They spent their lives tending and caring for all these sheep with love and meticulous attention to detail.
If that is not enough of an intentional connection, let me help jog your memory with the famous story of a shepherd in the first testament. His name was David. Not only was he a shepherd, but he was also a king, a poet, and a prophet. He shared insights and foresights given to him by the Spirit of God about the promised Messiah to come.
Jesus himself later took hold of the powerful metaphor of the shepherd, demonstrating how a shepherd will risk everything to save one sheep (Luke 15). Jesus called Himself “the Good Shepherd” (John 10:14–15). He is also called “the Great Shepherd” (Hebrews 13:20) and “the Chief Shepherd” (1 Peter 5:4). What child is this? He is the one that cares. He is Jesus.
Recalibrate: Whom are you called to love in this season of your life?
Respond: Pray for the capacity to love freely that comes from Jesus.
Research: How did shepherds care for their sheep at the time of Jesus that was unique?
Live Wonder (ages 0–3)
Fear is natural to all of us, kids and parents alike. What is one thing that scares your child? What is one thing that scares you? Pray together, thanking Jesus that we do not have to fear because He is with us.
Live Adventure (ages 4–11)
What is one thing that really scares you? Why does it scare you? Do we have to be scared when Jesus is with us? Play God is Bigger than the Boogie Man by Veggie Tales for your child.
Live Purpose (ages 12–16)
How have your fears changed since you were little? Are you scared of the same things? If not, what do you think changed? Find a creative way to connect with Jesus when you are feeling fear. Put a Bible verse as your phone’s wallpaper, a sticky note on your mirror or locker, or set an alarm on your phone to remind you to pray.