Devotional: The Shepherd’s Crook – 4th Friday in Advent

4th Friday in Advent

The Shepherd’s Crook

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over
their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of
the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to
them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for
all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he
is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby
wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Luke 2:8-12

One of the Chrismon symbols found on our tree is the shepherd’s crook. It looks
a lot like a candy cane, and for good reason. Years ago, a Christian man made
candy at Christmas in the shape of the shepherd’s crook as a reminder that Jesus
is our Good Shepherd, but also that he was first introduced in this world to shepherds.
Why would this royal announcement be made to poor, humble, lowerclass
shepherds? There may be several reasons, pointing to Jesus as:

The Good Shepherd – Historically in Israel, shepherds were respected
and those in leadership (kings) were actually called shepherds. When God was
upset with Israel’s leaders, he said he would send a new shepherd-king (Ezekiel
34), Jesus!

The Passover Lamb – Bethlehem was known for its sheep, and not just
any sheep. The sheep for all the Temple sacrifices were raised in the fields outside
Bethlehem. The shepherds in the Christmas story may have been raising the
only acceptable lambs for the Passover sacrifice. It is only fitting that they would
be the welcoming committee for Jesus, the only acceptable sacrificial lamb for
our sins.

The Peasant Child – But they were mere peasants, telling us something
very important about Jesus. He came in poverty and weakness, not wealth and
power, in order to relate to us. He was not born in a palace, but a sheep cave —
perhaps one that these shepherds often used!

There was a European king who worried his court by often disappearing
and walking incognito among his people. When asked not to do so for security’s
sake, he said: “I cannot rule my people unless I know how they live.” The Christmas
story reminds us that we have a God who knows how we live because he
was born and lived among us common folk, as the Lamb of God and our eternal
Good Shepherd.

Prayer: Jesus, Lamb of God, worthy is your name! We praise you for
humbling yourself to live among us so that you can rule us and care for us as a
Good Shepherd. Amen.