One late evening, a little over 2015 years ago, a man named Joseph and his young wife named Mary arrived in Bethlehem only to discover that there were no rooms at the local inn. Imagine the frightening situation they faced since Mary, who was expecting a child, probably had been experiencing birth pains for the last 10 miles of their 80 mile journey. Now that they had finally reached their destination they were told that the only place the inn keeper had to offer for their comfort was an animal shelter. This was not exactly the place Joseph expected he and his wife to be spending the night when they reached their destination. Imagine the stench from the animals and the flies that buzzed around them. Even considering the archaic way children entered the world back then, this was not the way Mary and Joseph had envisioned their first child being born. It would not be long after Joseph made Mary comfortable that the time for the child to be born had arrived. Soon Mary's screams from the pain of childbirth would break the silence of the night as their first Son entered the world. With only the animals to greet the newborn, it would not be long before some very unsavory individuals would stop to greet the new parents and their child. They were shepherds who had been tending their flocks when an Angel visited and told them that a child had been,
....For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger." Luke 2:12-13I say unsavory, because times had changed since the days when King David was a young shepherd boy and God has chosen him to lead Israel. By the time Jesus was born, shepherds were among the lowest and most despised social groups in Judea. The very nature of a shepherd's job would keep them from entering into the mainstream of Israel's society. After all, many of these men were usually transients who would take any job they could find just to work. Some would have been former landowners who lost their land for one reason or another and thus many Jews considered them to be of questionable character because God surely punished them for some untold sin they had committed.