December 11, 2014

Unclean Shepherds

Luke 2:8-14

There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
—Luke 2:8


In ancient Israel, shepherds were generally considered “unclean” in the community of God’s people because of the work they did. They were in daily contact with dirty, smelly sheep, their manure, their blood from cuts and scrapes, and the insects that buzzed around them. All of this meant that shepherds were almost never clean enough to worship with God’s people in God’s presence. So they were generally treated as outsiders.

During Jesus’ lifetime, he specialized in welcoming people who were disregarded as unclean and unwelcome outsiders. He healed lepers. He ate with prostitutes and tax collectors. Even when Jesus was born, God showed that something new was happening in the coming of Christ. People who may have been ignored or ostracized by the community were now welcome in the presence of the Savior. In fact, not only was there room for shepherds in the presence of the Lord, but they were the first ones notified and invited to come and see the Savior who had been born!

Do you ever feel as if God won’t have time for you, or that you are not worthy of his attention? Does your guilt and shame stand as a barrier that keeps you from even seeking him? In the miracle of Christmas, God shows that he is willing to pay the price so that any of us can come near to him.

Lord, we marvel at your welcoming grace. You welcome us into your presence, in spite of our guilt and shame. We are so blessed by your amazing love! Amen.

About the author — Bill Sytsma

Bill Sytsma is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary (M.Div) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (D.Min). He is the author of the book Follow the Leader and is serving as the pastor of New Life Christian Reformed Church in Highland, Indiana. He and his wife, Staci, have hosted support groups for families built through adoption. He and Staci are the proud parents of three active boys: Luke, Isaac, and Nico.

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