“Now there were in the same country shepherds abiding in their fields by night….” (Luke 2)
(What follows is a report from the youngest shepherd of that fateful night in the field outside Bethlehem, with the editor’s occasional remark in italics.)
I was not supposed to work that night, it being a school night. My friend Elihu asked me to fill in for him. Now, my father is not real thrilled with me hanging out with some of these characters who work those night shifts with the sheep. Shepherding is the ultimate unskilled labor and only those who can’t do anything else need apply.
But Father knows I’m a good student and agreed that we could use the money.
Anyway, that’s how it happened that I had the most amazing experience of my young life.
Did I say I’m only 15? So, it’s not like I have seen everything, but this is surely the high point of my life so far. I can’t imagine it getting any better.
Shepherding anytime is no fun, but at night it is the most boring work imaginable. The sheep are not grazing and not even wandering around. They’re asleep. Even dumb animals know night-time is when you shut down and get some rest. But, I’m not complaining. It’s a job, and there aren’t many of those around for people my age.
Mostly, we were there to protect the flocks from the wild animals. Several small flocks were intermingled across the meadow. It’s too much trouble to herd the sheep back and forth from their farms each evening and morning, and labor being cheap, there we were.
There were four of us on duty there that night. What were we talking about? I ‘ve mostly forgotten. Something about Elihu’s real reason for missing work, I think. Yitzhak seems to think he has a girl somewhere and she sneaks out to meet him when her father isn’t looking. Since Yitzhak has done that a time or two, we teased him about being such an expert on the subject.
Scholars say shepherds in First Century Judea were notoriously dishonest and often disreputable. Their testimony was not accepted in court. Interesting that the Heavenly Father chose shepherds as the first welcoming committee for the Lord Jesus. Clearly, the Heavenly Father is no Pharisee!