Whatever Happened to the Shepherds?

The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told (Luke 2:20).

The verse of the day comes from the reading for Christmas Eve worship. It’s the birth narrative of Jesus where the angels show up to the shepherds who were tending their sheep. The shepherds leave their sheep to go to Bethlehem to see what was foretold to them by the angels.

Besides Mary and Joseph, they were the first human beings to see Jesus!

It’s a tender scene. No Christmas scene is complete without the shepherds who were keeping watch over their flock that night.

But what happened to these shepherds after they went back to their sheep? How come we don’t ever hear from them again? Shouldn’t they have been the first disciples of Jesus? Shouldn’t they have played a bigger role in the story and the ministry of Jesus?

We will never know for sure. The Bible doesn’t tell us. The gospel writers are silent about the lives of the shepherds after they saw baby Jesus.

So, what happened to the shepherds?

While the Bible is silent, we can put together a fairly good guess as to why we don’t hear about the shepherds again.

The life expectancy of the common man during the days of Jesus was mid-thirties. Very few people lived to see 60.

The most likely scenario is that the shepherds who saw Jesus on Christmas day died before Jesus’ public ministry began thirty years later.

Mary and Joseph would return to Nazareth, where Jesus grew up and lived for thirty years. That was quite a distance from Bethlehem. There was absolutely no reason why anyone from Bethlehem should go to Nazareth. Nazareth was a tiny town with a couple of hundred people living there.

Even though we don’t hear about the shepherds ever again in the gospels, the story of Jesus would not be complete without them.

The same is true for you. Generations from now will not remember much about what happened to us after we met Jesus, but that doesn’t mean you and I don’t contribute to God’s work here and now.

Keep trusting Jesus and stay faithful to the calling of Christ Jesus for your life.

Merry Christmas!

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