We lit the Candle of Peace yesterday at church and focused on the annunciation of the Messiah by the angel to the shepherds. Upon receiving the news of the Messiah’s birth in Bethlehem the shepherds hurried to see Him. Their good news became real when the saw the child and told everyone what they had experienced.
Shepherds in the Bible are a significant part of the redemption story. In addition they provide a theological motif for the work of Christ. Abraham, Moses, David, and Amos were shepherds. David brought a new understanding to our relationship with God when he declared, “The Lord is my shepherd.” (Ps. 23:1) The shepherd boy who became the warrior-king understood the powerful meaning of what it meant for God to be his shepherd. Shepherds lead sheep. They bring them to water, food and safety.
Shepherding requires three functions: presence, voice and protection. The presence of the shepherd gives comfort and assurance to the sheep. He walks among them caring for their needs, soothing them with words and songs. His voice to the herd is distinctive. Sheep know the shepherd’s voice and they respond to him. Finally, shepherds protect the flock with “rod and staff.” The rod is a weapon used against predators and the staff is used to rescue them whenever they wander away from the flock.
David sees the Lord as his shepherd leading, feeding and restoring his soul. He protects him and provides the way to live in the Father’s house forever. Jesus is our Shepherd who provides us with everything we ever need in every situation. He is our bread when we hunger, our living water when we thirst, our strength in our weakness, and our salvation from sin and death.
As we light the Candle of Peace tonight, let us remember to ask Christ to lead us, protect us, and give us what we need.