O Zion, messenger of good news, shout from the mountaintops! Shout it louder, O Jerusalem. Shout, and do not be afraid. Tell the towns of Judah, "Your God is coming!" Yes, the Sovereign Lord is coming in power, He will rule with a powerful arm. See, he brings his reward with him as he comes. He will feed his flock like a Shepard. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lean the mother sheep with their young.
There are a couple of things here that we should think about. First, there is good news. This is good news that should be shouted from the mountaintops. Second, we are told to tell the towns of Judah. This is to fulfill a promise that goes back to the end of Genesis. In Jacob's blessing on his son Judah, God promises that Judah will be the tribe from whom the messiah will come. Jesus is that messiah. He is the lion of the tribe of Judah. In reading this it is not hard to see how the Jews had to be so confused with the appearance of Jesus. How could this carpenter be the one who will rule with a powerful arm? The thing to remember is that Jesus had always ruled with a powerful arm. He still reigns in power. He is eternally God, and always sovereign. Jesus would come as a ruler, not of this fallen physical world, but as a the great spiritual ruler that he has always been. I love the beauty of the passage when it talks about the care that God will bestow on his people. He will feed them like a Shepard. He will hold them close to their heart, carrying them in his arms. The other important thing about a Shepard to remember is that a Shepard is a man of action. We picture shepherds as little kids in bathrobes looking over sheep. That is not a very accurate picture. A Shepard had to protect his flock from the wolves. Jesus is a gentle Shepard to his people, but a fierce warrior when it comes to the wolves that seek to devour his flock. One last thing that I thought about when I read this is the Shepard's feeding of his flock. Jesus said I am the bread of life. He has come to feed our spiritual hunger with himself. As we prepare for Christmas, I pray that we will seek to fill our spiritual hunger in the person of Jesus Christ.