“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’
“So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” — Luke 2:8-20 NIV
When you think of the greatest invitation of all time who do you think would be invited? The first people to hear the news of the Messiah were the Shepherds. What an unlikely audience, so counter-cultural to what we might picture and definitely opposed to the conventional wisdom of that day! Let’s look at the shepherds and see what we can observe.
Shepherds were out in the fields when they received this glorious announcement, can you imagine a heavenly host of angels? Can you imagine? You are just sitting outside in a field, maybe even half asleep, and voila! The sky is full of angels. GotQuestions.org describes the word host as a great number of individuals or an army. “Modified by the word heavenly, hosts become a great number of angelic beings forming a celestial army under God’s command,” says GotQuestions.
Can you imagine the angels gift of worship? The angels filled the night and the air with music, and they worshiped. Worship is to ascribe worth to someone.
Shepherds were considered the lowliest of low in their day. They probably smelled, maybe dressed poorly, were uneducated, used to being alone and were dedicated to their sheep personally and professionally.
We know that throughout Scripture there are examples Jesus uses of being our Good Shepherd and us being sheep. John 10:10 says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.” Just like Jesus laid down His life for us, a good shepherd will leave the 99 sheep to go after the 1 lost sheep. This is what Jesus does for you and me.
A good shepherd knows his sheep. He knows if one has wandered off and provides exactly what each sheep needs. A good shepherd leads, he will look ahead to see if there are any concerns ahead on the path or things they need to avoid. Just like the Shepherd Jesus is our Shepherd. He loved us so much that He would come as a baby, grow up on this earth, guide a group of disciples on a three-year ministry and ultimately die for us – indeed, as our substitute. We were the wayward sheep, but our Good Shepherd took the consequences for us. That is how much He loves you and me.
The first people to hear that their King was born in the City of David were the lowest in Jewish society. That’s how Jesus works. He comes to the weak, the lowly, the vulnerable, and the outcast. The beautiful narrative above, which we find in Luke, illustrates the act of God bringing Jesus to the poor and the outcast, carrying joy and peace to all.
The nativity is the story of Jesus’s birth, where Angels came to the shepherds watching their flocks by night in order to lead them to Jesus. What surprises you about Jesus? I love how the shepherds tie Christ to the rest of the Bible. We read that there was no room for Jesus, but friends aren’t we like that today? We make room for what we want to, but we forget to give Him the worship and honor He deserves. Do you have room for Him today? My prayer for you this Christmas, is that you would seek Jesus anew and just like the shepherds you and I would return to our lives like the shepherds went back to their flocks “glorifying and praising God.” (Luke 2:18)
P.S. Do you know Jesus? Learn what it means to know Him by clicking HERE.
— Sue M. Lindsey, © December 2022