Where the Lambs Are Kept: A Narrative Retelling of Luke 2:8–15

Russ Ramsey | December 23, 2015


The shepherds’ lives were ironic. Their job was to care for the animals that would be sacrificed to atone for the sins of the people. Yet because of their handling of these dirty creatures, they themselves were unclean and thus prevented from keeping the ceremonial law. And because they were ceremonially unclean, they were often regarded as untrustworthy, irreligious, and poor in reputation.

Nevertheless, it was also expected that one who did his job well, a good shepherd, would be willing to lay down his life for his sheep. A good shepherd was someone who cared deeply for the lambs under his watch, many of which were appointed to die on the altar of the Lord for the sins of the very people who looked down on the shepherds.

The shepherds’ lives were, in effect, sacrifices.

The Angel

On one particular night, in the pastureland skirting Bethlehem’s northeast side, some shepherds sat like sentinels at their posts, keeping watch over their flocks, unaware of the angel regarding them from the skies overhead.

What would an angel think of their strange vocation? It was God’s idea that in this world sheep would depend on shepherds to watch over them. The Maker could…


To read the rest of this article, visit http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/where-the-lambs-are-kept.