Something had always not sat right with me about the gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus. E.g. Luke 2: 1-15:
1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into 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 what had always seemed odd (though I don’t remember if I had put my finger on it exactly) was that it seems everybody in the story–not just the “three wise men” but also the blue collar guys in the fields working the graveyard shift–knows all about the prophecy of the Messiah.
This makes sense if the story were just fiction; it’s not as if, say, Peter and Lucy would stumble upon an animal in the forest of Narnia who had no idea who Aslan was. (I really hope that never happened in the story, thus blowing up my “observation.”)
But in real life, I would have guessed that even token religious people weren’t up to speed on the predictions of their ancient seers. In our times, suppose the events described in Revelation started happening this Thursday. How many guys cutting lawns–even church-going Christians–would say, “Do you know what this means?!”
(BTW I include myself in this group. Without looking it up, I can’t remember exactly what the opening stages of Revelation would look like to us.)
Anyway, at church today our pastor addressed this point. He said that these shepherds weren’t just any old shepherds, but in fact were the people responsible for raising the animals that were used for sacrificial purposes (unblemished lambs, etc.). So in addition to an angel explicitly telling them what was going on, they also would have been better equipped to process it than, say, a Roman soldier.
Do any readers know how my pastor could have known such a thing? I mean, it doesn’t say that in the gospels.