“And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; but out of you shall come forth a ruler who will shepherd My people Israel.” – Vs 6
The story recorded in this chapter is a familiar one. So familiar that we sometimes look past its significance. In it are contained some very important details regarding Jesus’ birth, His deity, and God’s sovereign plan for the redemption of mankind. But one that often gets overlooked is found in verse 6 where Matthew quotes from the Old Testament book of Micah. He is showing that even the location for the birth of the Messiah was in fulfillment of prophesy. Jesus, the Son of God and the Savior of the world, would be born in an obscure little town called Bethlehem, whose only claim to fame was that it was the birthplace of another important icon of Hebrew history: King David.
But not only does this verse tell us of the Messiah’s birthplace, it tells us of His job description. Jesus will be a shepherd of the people of Israel. So not only do Jesus and David share a common birthplace, they share the same occupation. Over in Psalm 78, we read this of David:
“He also chose David His servant and took him from the sheepfolds; from the care of the ewes with suckling lambs He brought him to shepherd Jacob His people, and Israel His inheritance. So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them with his skillful hands.” – Vs 70-72
David and Jesus were both shepherds. David started out as a shepherd of sheep, then God made him a shepherd of the people of Israel. Jesus was to take up where David left off. Why? Because, since the time of David, the people had been shepherdless. Over in the book of Ezekiel, God describes them as sheep “scattered for lack of a shepherd” (Ezekiel 34:5). The truth was, the shepherds of Israel had not been doing their job. In Jeremiah 23:2, God has this to say about the shepherds or unrighteous rulers of Israel:
“ Therefore thus the Lord God of Israel concerning the shepherds who are tending My people: ‘You have scattered My flock and driven them away, and have not attended to them; behold, I am about to attend to you for the evil of your deeds,’ declares the Lord.”
Back in the book of Ezekiel, God had some rather harsh words for these worthless leaders:
“Thus says the Lord God, ‘Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock? … Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I shall demand My sheep from them and make them cease from feeding sheep. So the shepherds will not feed themselves anymore, but I shall deliver My flock from their mouth, that they may not be food for them’” – Ezekiel 34:2, 10
Since the time of David, there had been no godly leadership to shepherd the people of God. Oh, there had been a few, but they had been few and far between. So God allowed the people of Israel to end up in captivity. He had ended the reign of the kings of Israel. Over the coming years, Israel would find itself persecuted, occupied and controlled by enemy forces, and waiting longingly for their coming Messiah. They were anticipating a conquering king who would rescue them from persecution and restore them to their former greatness. They were looking for another David. And Matthew reminds his Jewish readers that Jesus did come as another David, but not as a conquering king, but as a servant shepherd. Oh, he will rule, but His kingdom will not be of this earth. Jesus, the Messiah, was coming to deliver the flock of God. He came to shepherd, care for, and lead the sheep back to spiritual health.
Just take a look at a few of these verses that describe Jesus the shepherd:
“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” – John 10:11
“Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will…” – Hebrews 13:20-21
“And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” – 1 Peter 5:4
“For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.” – 1 Peter 1:25
“They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them no any heat; for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.” – Revelation 7:16-17
Jesus is the good shepherd, the great shepherd, and the chief shepherd. He is the one who has come to restore God’s people to a right relationship with Him. He has come to gather the lost and heal the sick and wounded. He came to lay down His life for the sheep.
Father, thank You for sending Your Son, the Great Shepherd, to find me when I was lost and restore me to a right relationship with You. He loves me, guides me, feeds me, and protects me. Thank you that when men could not shepherd Your sheep, You provided the one, true shepherd – Jesus Your Son. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men