The Shepherds Christmas Object Lesson

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How come God chose to have the shepherds be a part of the event of Jesus’ birth? This Shepherds Christmas Object Lesson will help children to understand that God is motivated by joy and desires to glorify Himself.

The Shepherds Object Lesson

Scripture Focus: Luke 2: 8-20; Hebrews 12:2

Materials: shepherd’s staff, walking stick, or picture of a shepherd; CLICK HERE poster of Hebrew 12:2; write Luke 2:10-11 on the board; image of Bethlehem and Shepherds

Geography: locate Bethlehem

Background: Joseph and Mary had traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem because a decree from Caesar Augustus told the people that should all travel to his own city to be registered. A census was going to take place. Everyone has to be counted. Joseph was from the line of David, so he went to Bethlehem. While they were there, Mary gave birth to a baby, wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger.

Object Lesson for The Shepherds:

{Show the shepherd’s staff. Ask:}

  • What is this? [A staff]
  • What is it used for? [A shepherd uses it to take care of sheep.]
  • Can you list some famous shepherds from the Bible? [Abel. Abraham, Moses, David, etc.]
  • Where shepherds rich? [Help the children to remember that Abraham was rich…David kept his father’s sheep…but that the shepherds, when Jesus was born, were not rich.]

Shepherds, back in the days of Abraham, were respected and very rich. Sheep were always wanted by people. And when the tabernacle as built, and then the temple, shepherds were needed to raise sheep for sacrifices.

Over the years, society changed. Masters hired servants to watch their sheep. The Masters stayed in town and the shepherds took the sheep miles beyond the town walls to find grass and water. Being a shepherd was a lonely job. The job of shepherd fell in favor with people. They weren’t very clean people. No one listened to them. Even though the job they did was important, the shepherds themselves were not seen as being valuable.

Bible Lesson for the Shepherds:

{Show the picture of Bethlehem.}

Bethlehem wasn’t a huge city. It was a small town. Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem because the leader of Rome and all its lands wanted to know how many people he governed so he could tax them. Not being wealthy themselves, they had no place to stay, so Joseph and Mary were probably in the animal holding area of a relative’s home. Maybe it was a cave. No one really knows. Baby Jesus was born, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a feed trough.

{Show the picture of the shepherds. Point out Bethlehem in the background on top of the hill.}

The Bible says that shepherds were out in the fields surrounding Bethlehem at night. An angel appeared to them and the glory of the Lord was all around them. The shepherds were scared! The angel told them to not be afraid.

{Read Luke 2:10-11 from the board.}

{Ask:}

  • Why did God choose to have shepherds be a part of Jesus’ birth? [Allow for answers.]
  • What did the angel bring to the shepherds? [Good tidings; Good news]
  • What kind of Good News was it? [joyful news]
  • Who was to receive the Good News message? [All people.]
  • If shepherds weren’t really accepted by society, why would God give His joyful message to them? Why not the king? or the temple leaders? [Allow for answers.]

After the angel announced the news, a multitude of angels appeared giving glory to God. Once they went away, the shepherds talked among themselves and then went into the town to find the baby. They found him just as the angels said they would.

When they left the place where Jesus was, the shepherds were glorifying God and telling all of the townspeople about what they had seen and heard.

Life Application of the Shepherds:

Shepherds were normal people. They were often overlooked. They weren’t famous. No one knew who they were except those who worked with them or their families.

{Ask:}

  • Does that sort of sound like you and me? [Yes, we are known by those who are in our circle of family and friends.]
  • If the angel’s message was to all people, did that include the shepherds? [Yes]
  • Does that include you and me? [Yes]

God wants His Good News message to go out to ALL people. The shepherds represent everyone, all humanity. They were poor people, but they were rich because they accepted God’s News. Once they accepted the news, they then glorified God and told other people.

God told the shepherds His Good News because He wanted to bring joy to the shepherds. He also wanted to bring joy to all of the people in the town and to Joseph and Mary.

Think about it! Mary had an angel appear to her. Joseph had an angel appear to him in a dream. Then the shepherds showed up explaining how an angel and then a multitude of angels had appeared to them. God wanted Joseph and Mary to have confirmation, or firm knowledge, that what had happened was from God.

{Show and read the poster.}

The shepherds proclaimed great joy at what God was doing. Good News for all people! This verse from Hebrews tells us that Jesus endured the cross because of the joy that it would bring. Joy! Eternity with Jesus! The Good News wasn’t just about the birth of a baby, but about the death of a man who was God in the flesh.

All of us deserve death. The message of joy is that Jesus died instead of us. Shouldn’t we be excited about that?

After Jesus died and rose again, He ascended into heaven and now sits at God’s right hand. The right hand was the place of honor whenever a king had people over to dinner. People knew that the most important person besides the King, would be at the right hand.

And Jesus sits at God’s right hand now waiting for His father to turn to Him and say, “Go! Go and get my people. Return! It is time!

What can we learn from the Shepherds? We should have as much joy about the Good News as the Shepherds showed. We should proclaim Jesus to all people and glorify God.

Recommended Resources for The Shepherds:

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