Sheep! Ewe…I mean eew. Not the cleanest of animals to say the least. And not to mention the shepherds who are looked upon as some of the lowliest in the culture. But sheep and shepherds play a key role – not only in this region of the particular country we are serving in, but also in Scripture. The sheep or lambs are seen as a main food among the people group whom we are working, but they are also seen as a means of sacrifice just like in the Old Testament (Lev. 16).
Today we went out among a family of the “B people” who work with sheep. In fact, the “B people” are just that — shepherds. We corraled them into the pen alongside the help of this particular family. One of the “m’s” here serves as a veterinarian and so he brought a medicine for the sheep that helps ward off disease. We then grabbed them by their hind legs, gave them a shot and then marked them. These sheep are raised up then to become sustinance and sacrifice.
After we finished with this project, the family welcomed us inside their stone house to eat traditional food of flat bread, peas/broth mixture, tomatoes and cucumbers, and sweet hot tea. We conversed with the family, with the help of translators and then left them.
I couldn’t help but think, even as I am writing this, about how the shepherds were the very first to receive the Good News of the Gospel when Christ was born. The lowliest and dirtiest of the culture were first to hear, see, and then most importantly to tell about the Word Incarnate (Luke 2:8-18). This same Christ-child would become the perfect sacrificial Lamb who would die for the very shepherds who first witnessed to and witnessed about Jesus.
I pray that today as we gave medicine to these sheep and conversed with these shepherds, that seeds of the Gospel (the story of the Lamb who has overcome) were planted, and the next time they sacrifice a lamb for food, may the eyes of their hearts be opened to the Great Shepherd who has laid down His life for some of these – His sheep (John 10:11 ).
Written by Ryan Martin