Two Shepherds 

Two Shepherds  

Original story told by: God 

Adapted by: S.C. Mathisen

 

“Jacob, how long are you going to lie there and stare at the night sky?”

“As long as I need to Zebedee, I’ve been watching this star every night for the last several months, and it seems to be getting closer and closer every night. I can’t figure it out.”

“We need to get back to the flock; I’m worried that those Roman soldiers will decide to help themselves to a couple of our sheep while we are away from them.”

“All right, all right, I’m ready to go back now. I made a few notes on the position tonight. It looks like it is straight above that little village of Bethlehem. Maybe we’ll go in there in the morning and look around.”

“Help me gather up our things here, Jacob. You know, after this season is over, I’m going to head back up to Galilee and take my uncle up on his offer to teach me fishing and to set me up with a fishing boat. I am getting really tired of sleeping outside on the hard ground every night, watching a bunch of smelly sheep.”

“That sounds pretty good, Zebedee, but I like being out here. I especially like it at night when I can watch the stars. Ok, I’ve got the food; let’s get back to the sheep.”

The two shepherds head back over several small hills to the small field where they had left their herd. Jacob looks back over his shoulder at the star that has captured his imagination, and Zebedee scans the horizon for any signs of Roman patrols.

“Jacob, why does that star fascinate you so much? After all, the night sky is full of stars. What is so special about that one?”

“I don’t really know Zebedee, for some reason it reminds me of the Lord’s promise to send the Messiah. You know, I heard from a passing caravan yesterday that there was a strange caravan of royal astrologers in the area from some country far away to the east. I heard they were here because they had been following a star all the way from their country. I wonder if it’s the same star. I’d like to run into them and ask them a few questions.”

“Sounds kind of crazy to me. No one believes any of that Messiah stuff anymore.”

“But don’t you remember all the prophecies from synagogue school? One of them talked about a star!”

“Jacob, come on! All of that stuff is just old, tired stories to tell the kiddies at bedtime. If God was going to send a messiah, he wouldn’t have let us get conquered by the Romans. If He exists, He’s off doing other things and has cut us loose to take care of ourselves. Come on, we need to get back to the sheep.”

“I don’t care what most people think, Zebedee. I believe the stories, and I think that star has something to do with them. I just have a feeling about it.”

“Great! Wonderful for you. Me, I just want to get back to the sheep and get some sleep. All this stargazing is depriving me of some well-deserved sleep.” 

The two shepherds arrived back where they had left the sheep and begin laying out their sleeping gear and soon settle down for some sleep.

“Here we are, Zebedee. The sheep are right down there in that field all nestled in for the night, and we are here with them. Let’s call it a night. I sure wish that caravan from the east would come by here. I’d like to talk to those men.”

A couple of hours later:

 Zebedee awakes. He hears something that sounds like singing. Then, his eyes are almost blinded by a bright light.

“Jacob, what’s that in the sky? It can’t be morning already.”

“What? What do you want?” He cups his hand over his eyes. “Wow! That is really bright!”

“I’m scared,” said Zebedee.

“ I am too,” replied Jacob.

A third voice speaks. The voice seems to come from everywhere.

“Don’t be afraid!”

“Who said that?” asked Zebedee.

“Is that you, Simon?” asked Jacob, in a shaky voice.

“Don’t be afraid!” the voice repeated. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize Him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” 

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” 

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds just looked at each other. 

“Jacob,” said Zebedee, “remember all that stuff about not believing all those old stories?”

Jacob looked at his friend, smiled, and said, “Yes?”

“I’ve changed my mind. I do believe them now. ALL of them. Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 

They hurried to the village and arrived just as the sun was coming up. After asking all around, they found Mary and Joseph in a stable with their baby boy, lying in the manger. 

When they saw Him, they both went weak in the knees, knelt, and worshiped Him. They told Mary and Joseph what had happened to them, and they both were amazed.  

Afterward, they told everyone they met what had happened and what the angel had said about this child and where to find Him. 

All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished. Many came to worship Him as well.

 

On the road with the Magi

On the road with the Magi

 

“Come on Melchior, you’ve read and reread that scroll a thousand times. Why do you need to read it again now? We need to get going, the star is moving!” shouted an exasperated Balthazar as he climbed onto his camel.

“Patience, my young friend. You are right I have read this a thousand times and probably more. It never ceases to thrill me. I worry though, that we might have misunderstood it in some way. So, I read it again to reassure me. I am ready now, let me just pack this away for safekeeping. Then I will be ready to go.”

“Alright, I am going to double-check the water bags. I’ll be right back.”

Melchior carefully rolled up the scroll, put it into a leather case, and then put that case into one of his bags attached to his camel.

A voice came from behind him, “Alright my brothers, we have many days of travel yet ahead of us and the star does not tarry. We must keep pace.”

“Thank you, Caspar, I have been trying to urge this aged one on but he insisted on reading the scroll again.” sighed Balthazar.

Caspar slid down from his camel and walked over to where Melchior was beginning to climb onto his. “Let me help you, my friend.”

“Thank you, Caspar. These old bones don’t travel like they once did. I am thankful that I am able to make this one last trip. I yearn to see the Holy One.”

“As do I, my friend. What scroll were you reading? I’ll wager that I know.”

“You are probably correct. I was again reading one of the scrolls left to us by Belteshazzar. What was his Hebrew name again?”

“It was Daniel. Was it the scroll of Isaiah?”

“Yes, how does it go again? Ah yes! `The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.’ We are following one light so that we can see the dawn of another. The star leads us to the birth of the Hebrew Messiah. What a great event that will be.”

Balthazar returned with bulging water bags and urged, “Now both of you are wasting time! Come my brothers we must move to keep up.”

The two older men laughed. Caspar helped Melchior up into his seat and then mounted his own camel.

“Let us move on my brothers. If we are to view this miraculous child, we must press on.”

With that, the three men on their camels headed west once again with these words ringing through their hearts, “For a Child is born to us, a Son is given to us. The government will rest on His shoulders. And He will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”