I love Christmas time! I love the twinkling lights, upbeat holiday music, and the generous spirit people seem to be in. There is a sense of anticipation and it is contagious. Whether people are looking forward to a special family gathering or a special present under the tree, the feeling of something exciting is in the air.
I’m pretty certain this was not the case for the shepherds who were tending their sheep in the lowlands of Bethlehem on a clear night over 2,000 years ago. These unassuming men were certainly not expecting anything festive or grandiose, much less for the heavens to light up for them with the most exquisite announcement ever to be told.
Have you ever wondered why the Lord God would choose peasant shepherds to announce His greatest news - the birth of the Savior? I sure have! Let’s explore some reasons which I believe will bring you much encouragement.
Shepherds were doing hard work with no recognition. They were the hired hands, caring for the sheep. They were unnoticed and unwelcomed in many areas of their culture. The orthodox Jews did not allow them to partake in any of the temple rituals or offerings. They were considered social outcasts and dirty.
These shepherds were most likely caring for sheep that could have been used for the holy offerings unto the Lord in the temple. Since Bethlehem is roughly 6 miles to Jerusalem, which is where Herod’s Temple was, these sheep could have been the ones considered to be unblemished and spotless. And yet, these shepherds were unable to enter the Temple courts.
Can you relate to the shepherds in any way? Have you ever felt not good enough or dirty? Have you ever felt like an outcast? Ever been unwelcomed? Felt unseen? Have you ever felt as if there was no hope of something wonderful happening for you?
I believe that God is strategic in what He does and how He does it. He does not waste any opportunity to show His character and His deep love for every single human being, at every stage of their life. There’s not an emotion or circumstance that our precious Father does not understand. He truly sees us. Just like He saw the shepherds and valued them.
The story of the shepherds brings me great hope and anticipation. I believe that God knew we would one day be able to relate to these men. We would see that every class and every background would be welcomed to come before the Lord God because of His Son Jesus, Yeshua.
God choosing to introduce the great news of the coming of the Christ Child to shepherds, in this humble manner, enters in the new way of doing things. Life as they knew it would never be the same from this point on. Jesus would turn the world upside down and God chose His Son’s announcement to invade and change the cultural norms.
Those who are last shall be first, Jesus said, (Matthew 20:16). I think He began to preach this message that very night when the Heavens turned on all the lights and the angels put on the best choir ever. All this fanfare displayed God’s extravagant love for the least of these.
These shepherds then took the news with expectation and shared with everyone what they saw and heard. Look carefully at Luke 2 verses 16, 18, and 20. Now ask yourself these questions:
Do I go in haste, urgently when God beckons me?
Do I share with others the great things God has done, no matter how strange they sound?
Do I praise God for His wonderful and unique ways?
In a matter of minutes the shepherd's lives changed as well as their expectations for their future. They were full of wonder, awe and their joy was contagious. This is evident in verse 20, “The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.” They were transformed because God saw them and found them to be worthy of the greatest news ever to be proclaimed.
May this season be filled with the excitement and anticipation of this great tiding. May you and I never grow old at the wonder of Jesus, the gift of God for all mankind and the joy of knowing that God sees you.
Merry Christmas indeed!
Sobel, Rabbi Jason, et al. The Rock, the Road, and the Rabbi: Audio Bible Studies: Come to the Land Where It All Began. HarperChristian Resources, 2020.