And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. Luke 2:8
The problem with Christmas is we think we know what it's all about. We have heard the story of the babe in the manger since we were born. We gloss over details because we know them so well.
Guilty as charged.
We know that Jesus was born to Mary & we know that Mary belonged to the House of David. Technically unless your mother is Jewish you are not considered a Jew so that looong, long genealogy in Matthew is important. It is important for other reasons too but Mary's lineage is essential.
Joseph, as Jesus earthly father, would have been given an opportunity to bless the reading of the Torah in the synagogue at the next opportunity after his son's birth. Don't you wonder what he prayed?
We know that on the night Jesus was born Shepherds were on the hills watching their flocks. Forget the snow, people. If the shepherds were watching their flocks on the hills the shepherds were still at their summer grazing pasture. A birth date of late September/early October is far more likely.
From both Mary's & Joseph's lineage Jesus could claim Davidic descent; David, who once declaimed, The lord is my Shepherd...The prophets declared For out of you will come a ruler who will Shepherd my people, Israel...Jesus, at once both the sacrificial lamb & the Shepherd is proclaimed first of all to shepherds watching their sheep. And you know something about sheep, who are easily agitated & upset; they take great comfort just from the presence of their Shepherd! I don't have time but the rich symbolism just in this short piece of scripture is multi~layered going all the way back to Genesis.
Then Jesus was the firstborn son. The first born of anything was to be redeemed & set aside for God. Originally they were to serve as temple priests but there was that little hoo~ha with the golden calf in which only the tribe of Levi didn't partake so the priestly role went to Levi but with Jesus you see scripture reverting to the original intent of God. Things return to the way they are meant to be. Jesus is our High Priest.
Jesus, as the son of devout Jews, was circumcised on the 8th day. Circumcision was the outward physical sign of an eternal covenant between God & his people Israel. It would have been at his circumcision that Jesus received his name.
When a child was born a messenger was sent at once to bring the news to the father, saying, "A child is born to you." And we all know the meaning of angel, don't we.
We read of the Heavenly Host suddenly appearing & glorifying God. For me this is one of the most poignant passages in all of scripture. If Mary & Joseph had been at home in Nazareth when this birth took place their home would have been swamped by the rellies & musicians would have arrived in droves to serenade the new babe. Far from home, closeted in a stable with the animals, there was small chance anyone was going to arrive to celebrate this birth. Joseph may not even have had the money to pay for the musicians but even in these little details God did not forget. There were musicians that night, rejoicing in the heavens & the Glory of God shone around for The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Read the scriptures carefully. Christmas means so much more than we think it does.