I’ve had the opportunity to direct several Christmas pageants over the years and one thing is for sure. No one wants to be a sheep. Sheep are stubborn – they stray from the flock and get in trouble – they don’t always follow the shepherd – they get dirty and they stink. Well so much for bit parts. I guess that’s the truth for most dramatic presentations. No one wants to be low on the cast list.
Second to sheep in importance are the shepherds. They spend all their time outdoors – in all kinds of inclement weather. Whether it’s hot or rainy, they are required to stay with the flock and make sure it’s safe. There’s no time for clowning around or having any kind of fun, because they’re constantly on the lookout for wolves and other predators. Not only that, they’re dirty and they stink.
I think it’s really cool that the angels appeared to these lowly individuals on that first noel. The Son of God was born in a cave reserved for animals. He was laid in a feeding trough instead of a royal bed. He was sung to sleep by the lowing of cattle and sheep. Here was the King of Kings, born in deepest poverty and humility. Here was the Son of God, who came to shepherd the world. He a became a sheep Himself to eventually be led to slaughter as the unblemished lamb necessary to remove sin.
The people were expecting another king like their ancestor, David. They were looking for someone who would be victorious over their oppressors – one who would bring them worldly prosperity and glory. They wanted a flashy king – not a shepherd – not a smelly sheep.
This is the way God decided to come to us. He was born of a virgin – He lived a life of hard work, discipline, obedience and poverty – He taught the scriptures to the scholars of His childhood – He came to take our place – He proclaimed the truth of God’s message to the world – He didn’t come to be served, but to serve – He put Himself in the lowliest of positions, yet He proved His divinity when He resurrected Himself from death.
When you think about the pageantry of Christmas, the most amazing character in the story was that little baby – that humble baby boy – who loved the world in spite of her unbelief and ugliness. He became the shepherd and the sheep so we would have eternal life. God gifted us all with the most amazing treasure ever.