We know very little about these shepherds, who as a group, of whatever number, are the best known shepherds in history. The nativity story has few details in it of which many ask questions and wonder concerning the authentic answers. General imprecise knowledge of the culture of the first century has led scholars to surmise certain details which have no incontrovertible proof; such as, the true age of Mary and even Joseph, the location and nature of the stable, whether a cave, a stone or wooden structure, how many shepherds, how many Magi who came later guided by the star, and what later became of both shepherds and Magi who worshipped God in the form and nature of an infant, the nature and properties of the guiding star, et cetera, et cetera. Mary, by cultural norms, is considered to be in her mid-teen years. We simply do not know such to be accurate. In any case, by any generational norms, she, like Joseph in the Old Testament, is quite mature for her alleged age, and, like Joseph at seventeen, very devout.
From the little we know of the shepherds from Luke’s account, I believe they were acquainted with the prophecies of a coming Messiah in the Old Testament Scriptures. Shepherds, again by scholars who look for indications as determined by the knowledge of the culture, were assumed to be uneducated, poor, non-credible witnesses, and even thieves. But such stereo-typing does not tell us about the true nature of these shepherds. God, the Holy Spirit, has chosen to tell us all we need to know, and He has given us enough information to come to some fairly accurate conclusions about these men despite the lack of certain details. Any truly objective and intelligent reader of the nativity accounts should know immediately that this is not the story any human would make up to explain an entrance of God into human history, taking on flesh and becoming man in these particular, revealed circumstances. The skeptics are only blowing smoke. Their minds are made up and simply are not swayed by truth. An open, observant, thoughtful mind has much to contemplate and consider for his own great benefit and spiritual health. Pity those who ignore such a magnificent beginning to the story of salvation.
Like us the shepherds were men who were terrified in encountering something totally foreign to their previous experience as the heavenly host lit up the night sky. Yet they believed the message and responded to it immediately and eagerly. What they saw, they believed. This was the promised Messiah, this Babe in the manger! Then they told about what their eyes of faith had beheld. Apparently their hearers believed them because of the genuine character of their testimony. But this is the last we hear of these shepherds. This is also the case with so many who had a life changing encounter with Christ in the Gospels; we do not hear of them again. We would love to hear sequels of their lives, but the Holy Spirit now keeps such information from us. There is so much that awaits us in eternity.
In pondering what happened to the shepherds, or the Magi, or the Samaritan woman at the well, or many of the miraculously healed; and having no following information, I came to a conclusion that these historical accounts are turned back on us. What happened afterward to you? What transpired in your life after you encountered Christ? This is the more important sequel to know and to live. One day you will sit down with one of or all of these shepherds and hear the rest of the story. But today it is your time to create your “after-story. As you do, their “continuing story may take on greater clarity in your mind and heart. What is the nature of your life as you leave the manger, or the cross, or the empty tomb, or the Mount of Ascension? What is your story going to be tomorrow? Will it be an account you will want to tell to your children, your family, and all you meet? And just possibly they will marvel at the things you are able to tell them.
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