I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
The prophecy we are focused on this week is found in Micah 5:2-5. I encourage you to read it each day for reflection and reference. These prophetic texts are multidimensional; they carry meaning through the ages. Today, we are focused on the significance of this prophecy for God’s people during Jesus’ life. After all, Jesus is one of the most significant fulfillments of this prophecy. In other words, we are asking the question, “how would this passage have been understood in the days of Jesus?”
When an Israelite read a passage that mentioned a ruler coming from Bethlehem, it would have immediately given them an idea. They would have thought of King David. David was from Bethlehem, and he was their history’s greatest king. David had military victories that brought peace; he had been a shepherd, representing the good old days. Then Jesus is born, and he fulfills the prophecy by showing up to this insignificant town of Bethlehem, but the rest of the expectations are shattered. In John 10:11 Jesus says, “I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.” This self-sacrificing Shepherd was not what they had in mind. They wanted the Goliath-killing Shepherd. Jesus’ ministry and death would not have been a part of how they expected the prophecy to be fulfilled.
What do we do when the answers to our prayers show up in a form that we don’t expect? Advent is an opportunity to wrestle with our expectations and to learn to lay them down at the more beautiful, albeit unexpected, answers to our desires.
By Aaron Bjorklund