The Shepherds: Witness of Birth of Christ
On the eve of the birth of Jesus Christ in the stable at Bethlehem, there were in the fields not far distant shepherds watching over their flocks. The fact that they were in the fields by night gives us some indication of the season of the year in which Jesus Christ was born. It was the custom among the Jews to take their sheep to the fields about the time of Passover and bring them home at the coming of the first rains–thus they would be in the fields from about April to October. Of these shepherds, late LDS (“Mormon”) apostle, Elder Bruce R. McConkie has suggested:
This part of the Christmas story–of the holy birth of Christ–These were not ordinary shepherds nor ordinary flocks. The sheep there being herded–nay, not herded, but watched over, cared for with love and devotion–were destined for sacrifice on the great alter in the Lord’s House, in similitude of the eternal sacrifice of Him who that wondrous night lay in a stable, perhaps among sheep of lesser destiny. And the shepherds–for whom the veil was rent: surely they were in spiritual stature like Simeon and Anna and Zacharias and Elisabeth and Joseph and the growing group of believing souls who were coming to know, by revelation, that the Lord and Christ was now on earth. As there were many widows in Israel, and only to the one in Zarephath was Elijah sent, so there were many shepherds in Palestine, but only to those who watched over the temple flocks did the herald angel come, only they heard the heavenly choir.
That the testimony of one Apostle does not stand alone relative to the character of these shepherds, I cite that of another, Alma, who announced the principle that angels would declare the glad tidings of the Messiah’s birth to “just and holy men” (Alma 13:26).
Special Witnesses of the Birth of Christ:
The special witness that these “just and holy men” bore relative to the birth of Jesus Christ was not limited to the night of the Savior’s birth but was for each of them a lifetime calling. Their story was to be told to family, friends, and neighbors. It was to be told to the courts of the temple and from there it was to find itself told among all the nations of the earth. Luke tells us that after the shepherds had seen the “babe lying in a manger” they “made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child” (Luke 2:16-17). Such was the commission of the angel who stood before them that holy night declaring “good tidings of great joy,” which were to go “to all people” (Luke 2:10) (Sperry Symposium Classics, Joseph Fielding McConkie, 2006, Brigham Young University & Deseret Book, 112-113.).
The birth of Jesus Christ is the revelation of Him in the flesh. It’s a beautiful, true, glorious account. Merry Christmas. Don’t miss Christ this Christmas.