Something Greater: Joy

December 19, 2021

Candle of Joy

Shepherds Candle

Luke 2:13-20

  1. Who were these Shepherds?

Tradition tells us that they were poor, dirty, lowly Shepherds that took care of unclean, dirty sheep out in some field.

But is that really who they were?

It is possible that they were actually fulfilling Temple duties.

  • The only ones allowed to do so were Priests

The Mishnah is a collection of documents recording oral traditions governing the lives of Jewish people during the period of the Pharisees. As such, an understanding of the Mishnah gives us insight into how Jewish people lived during the time of Jesus.

One regulation in the Mishnah “expressly forbids the keeping of flocks throughout the land of Israel, except in the wildernesses – and the only flocks otherwise kept, would be those for the Temple-services (Bab K. 7:7; 80a).

Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and their surrounding fields were not in the wilderness where ordinary flocks of sheep were kept. Therefore, according to the Jewish regulations, the flocks under the care of the shepherds near Bethlehem must have been “for the Temple-services.” These shepherds watched over sheep destined as sacrifices in the Temple at Jerusalem. 

  1. Why then did these Priests perform these duties?
  2. The sheep were intended to be sacrificed at the Temple
  3. They had to without blemish, and completely unharmed

– Note: Lev. 22:17-22 NIV

Side note: vs. 8 “Keeping watch over their flocks…”

  • Migdal Eder
    • A village near Bethlehem (Gen. 35:21)
    • A tower of the flock
      • It stood outside of town and within the Temple Priest’s field
    • A lookout tower

A Priest would stay in this tower all night.

  • His job was to watch over the sheep

“I bring you good news of great JOY that will be for all the people.”

“A Savior has come…”

Thought: If the Savior has arrived, then what do with these Temple sheep?

  • They are used for the sacrifice at the Temple and especially at Passover

The angel was saying, “The day will come when the perfect Lamb of God will be sacrificed.”

Note: 1 Peter 1:18-21; Hebrews 4:14-16; Hebrews 9:11-15 NIV

“You will find the baby wrapped in clothes.”

  • Swaddling clothes

For Priest Shepherds, a newborn lamb was wrapped tightly, swaddled in specially designated Temple clothes.

  • The lamb would be laid in a manger to keep it contained while it is examined for any blemishes or defaults

These Shepherds knew exactly what they were looking for.

  • A baby swaddled in Priestly clothes
  • Lying in a manger
  1. Where did Mary get Priestly clothes?
  • Luke 1:5 Zechariah is a Priest
  • Luke 1:39 – Mary goes and visits her cousin
  • Perhaps the clothes were given to her then as a baby gift
  • Elizabeth know exactly who and what this child is
    • The virgin born Son of God


Can you see now why the Shepherds ran with such excitement to see this thing that had happened?

  • They said to one another over and over again
    • “Let’s go” (vs. 15)
    • Hurried off earnestly (vs. 16)
    • Returned, glorifying and praising God (vs. 20)

Their hearts were filled with JOY on that night.