As I was listening to a Christmas Concert at Martin Luther High School this past weekend, it struck me that there is an interesting similarity between Luke 2 and Luke 15 that I had never considered before. In Luke 2 the shepherds leave their flocks in the open field to go and find the Christ child, for they leave "with haste." In the parable in Luke 15, Jesus says, "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?"
Of course, at first glance these passages are the reverse of each other, since in Luke 15 Jesus is the One doing the seeking, whereas in Luke 2 Jesus is the One being sought out. However, in both instances, it is shepherds doing the seeking--something which I think has clear implications for the pastoral office. Also, in both cases the importance of the situation requires a certain "recklessness" in leaving the flock.
And then there's this: In both cases it is a sheep, a lamb, that is being sought out. The Lamb of God, Jesus, was even lost in a certain sense, that is, away from home, without a place to stay or to lay his head other than a cattle trough. And did He not come to take the place of us lost sinners? This is precisely how He seeks us out and saves us, by taking up our flesh and bearing in His body our lostness, our guilt, our death. There He is, wrapped like a mummy in the manger, a sign of how He would be lost to death that we might be found and raised up with Him in His resurrection. (Dare we go even further into Luke 15 and see Christ with the lost? "Your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.")
It is this Gospel of Jesus that shepherds "make widely known" still today, so that lost and straying sinners might be restored to the flock. No wonder that in both accounts the angels rejoice and men glorify and praise God for all the things that they have heard and seen.