Friday, December 21, 2012

Day Eight: The Shepherd King

Matthew 2:6 (from Micah 5:2)
"But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel."
This verse is often used for its prophecy tying the Messiah to Bethlehem, but the second half is even better. The prophecy juxtaposes a ruler and a shepherd.  This is an unlikely combination.

First, shepherds. These were people who hung out with sheep all day. They were not part of the elite. They were in the countyside. To say the least, they were disconnected with the cultural goings-on and the latest religious trends. And they probably smelled like sheep too.

Second, rulers. Since most of us don't live in a Ancient Near Eastern monarchy this is lost on us.  In fact, our country prizes the fact that anyone could rise to become a ruler/leader. It is ingrained in our national ethos. Not so for that society.

In that time, to be King, you had to be 1. Male (there goes 50% of the population) and 2. Offspring of the King (and you best be the eldest to have a real shot).

So what does this unlikely Shepherd-King combination signify.

  1. God doesn't work like us. His ways are higher. He ways are better. He is both in control of everything in the entire Universe and is all good. I often think he should work on my terms, but the fact he doesn't give me what I want is part of his goodness. Oh, that we would remember his sovereignty and goodness the next time our plans fall apart.
  2. Jesus is the true and better David. This shepherd-to-King promotion was not unprecedented, nor was the hometown of Bethlehem. Both of those were first done by David, but Jesus is going to be our new David. He won't conquer the Goliath of Philistia, but he will conquer the Goliath of sin and death, forever expunging and destroying them both.
  3. We are sheep. This one hurts a little because sheep are the stupidest animals on earth ( But, it fits us. We are constantly wandering away. We don't know what's best for us. We are slow to trust. And our attempts to fix ourselves only make us worse. Yet, if we are the sheep and Jesus is the shepherd, we are going to be alright. Because he's the good shepherd. He's the good shepherd who willingly lays down his life for his sheep.
Jesus is your true Shepherd King, at Christmas we see his arrival to rule and guide, to lead you to ultimate safety, not for your earthly life, but for your eternal destiny and standing.