Water for the Thirsty
Weekly Devotional

Water for the Thirsty

A Non-Starring Role

Weekly Devotional

‘As the deer pants for streams of water so my soul pants for you, O God’. (Psalm 42:1)
‘…Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink”…’ (John 7:37)

11th December 2011

When it comes to the Christmas nativity play, shepherds rank low on the list of favourite parts.

Mary and Joseph are, of course, the leading roles. Then there’s the Wise Men who wear fancy robes bring gifts to the baby Jesus and meet with Herod.

Angels have some star power; they get to wear some wings.

But shepherds? There are no crowns or halos for them just bathrobes and towels on their heads.

There are no gifts for them to present and no songs to sing.

There’s nothing too exciting about playing a shepherd, except that Luke seems to think that they’re important.

You might notice that his telling of the birth story doesn’t have any wise men, kings, or magi – whatever name you want to give them. Luke doesn’t seem impressed with star power.

Although David was called the shepherd king and the 23rd Psalm calls God our shepherd, shepherds were really outcasts. They were dirty, smelly, and rough men.

But the good news comes first to this little group of shepherds. They get to hear the good news that the saviour, Christ the Lord, is born in the city of David.

When we think about important births, we don’t expect that shepherds will be the first to hear the news or even that shepherds will be the first to share the news. Of course, no one would have expected that the saviour would be born in a feeding trough. But that’s the story that Luke tells.

Luke’s choice of shepherds to appear in the story fits his broader message. Later in his gospel Luke tells us how Jesus went to the synagogue one day and turned to the book of Isaiah.

When He read that God’s good news must be proclaimed to the poor, the lame, the imprisoned, and the marginalized, He said to the synagogue: this is my calling.

It was His calling right from the beginning when the shepherds appeared on the scene.

The only time Jesus visited Herod or Pilate, he was on trial for subversion. Jesus didn’t take up residence in the Temple, but instead he preached from the hill tops and boats. He hung out with a rough crowd of Galilean fishermen, reviled tax collectors, and most shocking of all, with women.

As Christmas approaches let’s remember whom we are to honour.

The king of glory, who came as a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, surrounded by lowly shepherds, with a message of good news to all in society who have no starring role.

Remember too that this is only the beginning of the story. We must not leave Jesus in the manger, lest his cuteness lull us to sleep and we forget his purpose in coming.

Although the journey begins in a stable it must go through a cross.

He died for all people, the wise and the downtrodden, in order that they could be with Him forever in His Kingdom.

That’s good news for everyone, not least the shepherds of this world.

Have a good week thanking God that He sent His Son Jesus for you.

Pastor Barry

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