The Shepherd of Shepherds by tomaason


									                                                The Shepherd of Shepherds

                                           Christmas Coptic Articles Index

                                       :The Glorious Feast of Nativity ●
                                             ?January or 25 December 7
                                    God's Continuing Love Enfleshed ●
                                  Incarnation of the Word - Full Book ●
                 The First Coming…Preparation for the Second Coming ●
                               The Genealogy of the Lord Jesus Christ ●
                              The Nativity of Christ: A New Covenant ●
                                        Incarnation of the Word Jesus ●
                                           The Shepherd of Shepherds ●
                                               The Star of Bethlehem ●
                                             Wise Men Still Seek Him ●
                                         The Need for the Incarnation ●

     they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." …"
                                                          )(Matthew 9:36

    Now there was in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, "
keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold an Angel of the Lord
 stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they
    were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for
  behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.
      For there is born to you this day in the City of David a Savior who is
   Christ the Lord….So it was, when the angels had gone away from them
    into Heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go and see
       this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to
     us…Now when they (the shepherds) had seen Him, they made widely
             ".known the saying which was told them concerning this Child

                                                              )Luke 2: 8-17(

     The angels announced the miraculous and wondrous birth of the Lord
  Jesus Christ to lowly and simple shepherds in a field watching over their
   sheep. This glorious announcement was not made to the richest of kings
    or the esteemed high priests. These mere lowly shepherds would be the
first to hear of His birth and the first to share the message of His salvation
  with others. And the Lord Jesus Christ Himself would come to be called
  the "Shepherd of Shepherds." What was the significance of announcing
the reconciliation of humanity to God and people to each other beginning
      with the shepherds in the Holy Gospel of St. Luke? What important
 connotations do sheep and shepherds illustrate in Holy Scripture to hold
  ?such great importance at the Glorious Nativity of the Lord Jesus Christ

   Sheep are perhaps the most important animal in the Holy Bible as they
are mentioned over 400 hundred times. Their meat was eaten at sacrificial
   meals and their milk drank usually in the form of curds. Sheepskin was
     used for clothing and the ram's horns utilized for musical instruments
(Joshua 6:4) and oil containers (I Samuel 16:1). Goats also provided milk
                                                                  .and skins

Shepherding a flock of sheep and goats meant moving their flocks to new
  pastures in search of sustenance, ensuring an abundant and clean water
               supply, and constantly seeking out the lost. The shepherd's
  responsibilities further included guarding the sheep from the attacks of
predators and wild animals such as bears, lions, and wolves often placing
                           .their own lives in danger to protect their flocks

   Shepherding a flock was not the most glorious of occupations and may
    perhaps have even been frowned upon by more civilized populations.
    Evidence of this may be found in the Holy Book of Genesis 46:32-34:
  "…And the men are shepherds, for they have been keepers of cattle; and
     they have brought their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have.
   When Pharaoh calls you and says, 'What is your occupation?' you shall
 say, 'Your servants have been keepers of cattle from our youth even until
  now, both we and our fathers,' in order that you may dwell in the land of
          ".Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians

  The prophets Moses, David, and Amos all worked as shepherds during
some part of their lifetime. The Hebrew founding fathers Abraham, Isaac
   and Jacob were shepherds. Jacob upon his migration to Egypt and his
       representatives were brought before pharaoh they described their
 occupation by saying to the monarch, "Thy servants are shepherds, both
                                 )we, and also our fathers." (Genesis 47:3

   King David was a shepherd as a young boy. A Psalm said of David the
   shepherd who became David the King, "He chose also his servant, and
took him from the sheepfolds: From following the ewes' great with young
he brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance. So he
 fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the
                             )skillfulness of his hands." (Psalm 78:70-72

     King David in his rejoicing and wisdom wrote that the Lord was his
 Shepherd in the 23rd Psalm also known as the Sacramental Psalm. "The
Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green
  pastures." (Psalm 23:1-2) David the Prophet believed with the Lord as
  our True Shepherd we are not lacking. He will take care of us, manage
  our lives, and make it beneficial and fruitful in much the same manner
   only greater than the Old Testament shepherds cared for and nurtured
                                                               .their sheep

    The welfare of the flock was entirely dependent upon the management
     afforded them by their shepherd. But the words of David the Prophet
   seem to imply a deeper meaning than simply "not lacking." They mean
 contentment. We do not desire anything more in our lives than the Lord
  Jesus Christ. In the New Testament the Lord Jesus Christ reiterated this
when He said to the rich young ruler who wished to become His follower,
        "Go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast and give to the poor…and
                                         )come…follow Me." (Mark 10:21

   St. Clement of Alexandria (c. 195) wrote, "Christ admonished the rich
  man to leave his busy life and to cleave to One, adhering to the grace of
                                        ".Him who offered everlasting life

The social behavior of sheep is such that they will not lie down until they
 are free of all fear, are at peace with each other, are free from pestilence,
   and are free of hunger. The shepherd must provide these things for his
flock to enable them to lie down in green pastures. The shepherd realizes
      that anxiety ridden flocks will not do well and will exhibit agitation,
                                                 .discontent, and restlessness

  David would know these behaviors from his experience in watching his
 flocks and inferred this in the 23rd Psalm. Perhaps this is another reason
          .the metaphor of shepherd is so often used as a sustainer of life

  The 23rd Psalm makes mention of water (baptism) in verse 2. "He leads
    me beside the still waters, He restores my soul." This still water, is the
  pure baptismal water that alone can satisfy His sheep, quince their thirst,
        and restores their soul. The Eucharist is identified, in verse 5 "You
prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies." In Verse 5 also
is reference to Chrismation, "You anoint my head with oil." Therefore the
       23rd Psalm is commonly called the "The Lord the Shepherd of His
                                ".People" and "The Sacramental Psalm

 The 23rd Psalm is recited during the altar consecration. The consecration
   of the altar, representing the self-sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ (the
   True Shepherd of Shepherds), actually begins with the 23rd Psalm. The
  altar is the sacramental green pasture for the flock of the church through
             which we meet our Good Shepherd, upon which the church life
flourishes, partaking of His sacrificial body and blood. This Psalm speaks
        to Baptism, Chrismation, and Eucharist as the Shepherd's Holy and
                                           .Divine gifts to His rational sheep

         St. Ambrose stated, "The law instructs, history informs, prophecy
   predicts, corruption censures, and morals exhort. In the Book of Psalms
you will find the fruit of all these, as well as a remedy for the salvation of
 the soul. The Psalter deserves to be called, the praise of God, the glory of
".man, the voice of the church, and the most beneficial confession of faith

   The Lord Jesus Christ was born in humbleness and would grow in His
   humanity to exhibit meekness, patience, and submission to the Father,
 just as the sheep exhibits to their shepherd. The relationship to the Lord
       Jesus Christ is the same as that demonstrated by the shepherd to its
  flocks. The Lord Jesus Christ would grow in spirit and truth and be the
 Shepherd of Shepherds not seeing His flock as sinners to be condemned
  as the Jewish leaders of His day who acted as wolves among the sheep,
  but viewed sinners as harassed, helpless and lost sheep to be found and
                                                .brought back safely home

   In the Holy Gospel of St. John, chapter 10 the Lord Jesus Christ uses a
   parable illustrating salvation with the symbolism of a shepherd and his
    sheep. In verse 7, the Lord Jesus Christ calls Himself the Shepherd or
    "Door." "…Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the Door of the sheep."
      .The Lord is saying no one can enter the door except by way of Him

       In the Holy Gospel of St. John, the Lord Jesus Christ describes His
relationship to the believers who followed His teachings, "I am the Good
   Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep" (John
        10:11). The Good Shepherd and those under the Good Shepherd's
  direction will look after the sheep even to the point of giving their lives
                                                              .for the sheep

  In conclusion, the Lord Jesus Christ was not born within a royal palace,
           but within humble surroundings in a manger. His birth would be
 announced to lowly shepherds that sought Him out. He did not force His
     birth upon us. He did not coerce His way into our lives after His Holy
 birth. Rather He led the way to eternal salvation for those who would but
        follow. He compassionately taught through parables, miracles, and
personal sacrifice introducing Christianity into sinful and troubled hearts.
     He was The Shepherd who went ahead of His sheep. He did not drive
   them from behind. He led them beside that which was good away from
     danger and sin. His birth would restore the soul of all and His earthly
ministry would guide the obedient toward eternal righteousness. His birth
   would revitalize our souls and in times of darkness and trouble He will
     offer consolation to all the faithful. The Holy birth of the Shepherd of
Shepherds would be the door which would permit us to enter and dwell in
                                               .the House of the Lord forever

   .May the Shepherd of Shepherds birth renew His contentment in us all

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