When the wise men arrived in Jerusalem asking to see the new king, Herod’s spiritual advisors consulted Scripture and identified that the messiah would be born in Bethlehem. The basis for this was these words in Micah 5:2
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days.
The wider context of the passage is that this rule will arise in a time of oppression and siege. He will be the liberator who will defend God’s people. Bethlehem is not just about a geographical location but a pointer to the promise that this ruler will be from David’s line.
Verse 4 takes us a little further. This heir of David, just like David himself will be a shepherd king. The shepherd’s job was to provide (food) for the sheep and to protect them from attack so that they could live in safety and peace.
So, the New Testament picks up that imagery frequently. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He leads us and feeds us with God’s Word. But he is also the shepherd who protects from spiritual danger and so was willing to lay down his life for the sheep.
The enemy in sight is Satan and the danger in mind is of the penalty of death that sin brings. By laying down his life at the cross, Jesus defeated Satan and bore the penalty for sin.
When we talk about peace at Christmas, we are talking about the peace that he brings and indeed that he is (v5) because we are no longer under threat from those enemies. We can dwell in peace and safety within the protection of the Good Shepherd.
This Christmas put your trust in the Good Shepherd.