Contemplating Jesus


Posted on by Lucinda M. Vardey

Adoration of the Shepherds by Gerard van Honthorst (1592-1656)

Discerning God’s desire and direction were the prerogatives of prophets as were being able to read the signs, see the subtleties, hear the truth and to follow wisdom.

Samuel had been called by God to anoint a successor to Saul, so the prophet made his way to Bethlehem.   There he visited Jesse, father of seven sons, the youngest being David, who was found grazing his herd of sheep in the surrounding fields.  In 1 Samuel 16:7 the prophet is instructed not to look at outward appearances because “the Lord looks on the heart.”  A shepherd then was chosen to be Israel’s future king.   David traded pastoral life for that of the city, a switch which bred in him military prowess, shrewd leadership and the  inevitable alluring temptations that accompany power.

Jesus was born king in David’s hometown.  His throne was a manger of straw.  The first to welcome him were some ox and sheep and a group of local shepherds who had been tending their flocks in the hills.

St. Paul described Jesus’ kingship as the one “God promised beforehand through his Prophets in the holy scriptures….who was descended from David according to the flesh.” (Romans 1:1-4)   Jesus was commonly called “Son of David” in recognition of his noble lineage through his earthly father, Joseph.

With Jesus’ incarnation the heart of David was perfected.  Not sought after and anointed by any prophet, his coming had been forecast all the same.   He came as a baby and grew to full stature, a king not of this world, yet one who was to shepherd all peoples, especially the poor, the outcast and the simple of heart.

“On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples……You will say in that day, I will give thanks to you, O Lord.”

(Isaiah 11:10,16)

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