What happened to the Shepherds
“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.” Luke 2:8-9 “When the angels had left them and gone to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So they hurried off and found Mary, Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child.” Luke 2:15-17
I have often wondered about these shepherds. More than likely they were young men, perhaps not more than teenagers. It has been my experience that menial and unpleasant jobs like shepherding were often assigned to youth. Adult men would not do the shepherding as long as there were teens around to do it. David was a shepherd in his youth. I am sure this was the norm. Yet in the pictures of the nativity, we see adult, bearded men gathered around the baby Jesus.
If the shepherds who came to see Jesus as a baby were young teenagers, when he was in his ministry they would have been in their early forties. When they heard about this Jesus, preaching, and healing, and performing miracles, they must have put two and two together and realized that this man, claiming to be the Son of God was the baby whose birth was announced by angels to them while they were out in the fields that night.
I wonder what their reaction was? Had they been waiting for this? No doubt they lost track of the baby. His parents had fled with him to Egypt. They then returned to Nazareth far to the north. There would have been no way for these shepherds to have any idea where the Christ child was as he became a boy and then a man?
One has to wonder, what was the first time they heard of Jesus as an adult? Did they hear of his ministry up in Galilee? Would news of his miracles and preaching have gotten from the north to Bethlehem a few miles south of Jerusalem? Or did they first hear of Jesus during one of his trips to Jerusalem? If so, did they drop what they were doing and go to listen to him? Did they approach him and tell him that they were there the night he was born. He would have known who they were. He knew everything.
People in those days were not mobile, so they would have grown up as neighbors. Did they talk about Jesus a lot? Did they say to each other, “I wonder whatever happened to the baby?” And when Jesus started being the talk of the countryside as an adult, did they get together and discuss what they were hearing about him?
When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, were they in the crowd, waving palm branches? Did each of them nudge the person next to him and say, “I was there when he was born, you know. Angels sang to my friends and me as we watched our flocks by night. Yesiree! Jesus and I go way back.”
But at the end of that week, while Jesus was being crucified, what were they thinking? Were they afraid and confused? When did they first hear that Jesus had risen from the dead? How did they react? It says in I Corinthians 15:6 that Jesus appeared to more then 500 believers after he rose from the dead. Were the shepherds in that crowd? Oh, I hope so. Wouldn’t that be a great story? Or how about the two believers on the road to Emmaus. What if they were the shepherds? Wouldn’t that be something? Were they in the upper room at Pentecost? Did the flame of Holy Spirit rest on their heads? A lot of questions. The Bible is silent on the fate of the shepherds. But one has to wonder.