Luke 2: 17. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,
18. and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
And the shepherds are never mentioned further in scripture.
They didn’t know Mary and Joseph. Mary and Joseph didn’t know them. Mary and Joseph were soon busy fleeing for their lives so there would have been no further opportunities for return visits. Their story survives only because it was one of the remarkable memories Mary shared years later with Luke.
Presumably the shepherds returned to their jobs in all its boring routine. The one spectacular night when they saw the skies filled with angels, followed by a visit to an ordinary looking baby, soon became an old memory. Nothing happened in the next 30 years to quite clarify or justify anyone remembering the odd story these field hands told. At some point did they stop telling it? Herod’s order to kill all the babies in Bethlehem surely reached their ears. Perhaps they thought the baby they saw had also been killed. That would have made their story even more dangerous to tell later.
No doubt for the shepherds, life continued with little change that they could see. It has happened to others. After her death, we learned that Mother Teresa struggled for years with the silence of God after she believed He had spoken to her clearly about being a missionary to India. I wonder, myself, after years of ministry-service in the public eye, why God would allow me to be crippled up at home for so long. I haven’t seen a sky full of angels but I have seen moments I can explain in no other way than to believe Jesus was present. Those moments have been followed by a lengthening season that seems quite different.
Am I able to still tend to the simple needs of whatever sheep are still needing my attention? Those sheep probably want to know.