“Thus says the Lord GOD to the shepherds: “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock.” Ez. 34:2-3
It is no accident that our Lord was born in a stable, and it is certainly not extraneous that we are told that he was laid in a manger. He was laid in a food trough, and shepherds were some of the first guests to bow before the newborn king. Shepherds, whose job it is to lead the sheep to their food, shepherds like David and Moses, whose calling it was to lead the flock of Israel, kings whose task it was to feed the people of God. But these shepherds, these representatives of the many failed kings of Israel do what every king must do in the presence of the King of Kings. They come to bow before Him. And what they find is the King of Kings not only preparing food for his flock, but having become the food for his flock. The King has been born and he has been laid in a manger, a food trough; he has immediately become their food, their nourishment, their strength. This is because He is the Good Shepherd, who gives his life for his sheep. In Christ, God has come for his scattered sheep. He has come to search for them and seek them out, and he has come to feed them in the good pasture, to lead them in quiet pastures, to restore their souls, and to give them rest. So come, your Good Shepherd still gives himself for his sheep, he still gives himself as their food. Come and rejoice, you once were lost but you have been found. You have come to the manger, and your Shepherd has given himself for you. Joy to the world, the Lord is come.