Summary: A Christmas Eve devotion on the birth announcement to the shepherds
December 24, 2019
I remember when Joshua and Zachary were born. We sent out birth announcements. We wanted everyone possible to know they were born. We were so happy and excited. Isn’t that kind of what you do as parents? You want to tell the world about your baby.
But that’s not what God did. He didn’t send out this birth announcement to all the world. Well, He kind of did, but when Jesus was born, nobody really seemed to know about it.
The big birth announcement was to the Shepherds. They were probably at the bottom of the social hierarchy. So, if they were that far down the social ladder, “WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD GOD TELL THE SHEPHERDS FIRST?”
I’m not sure if kings and queens send out birth announcements, the media does a good job of getting the news out fast, but if they did, who would get one? It would be heads of state, Presidents, royalty, famous movie stars, musicians and athletes.
In today’s passage, we hear that a baby was born, it’s the Messiah, the Son of God, the Chosen One, the Prince of Peace. And like any daddy, God the father wants to spread the news. It’s time for the birth announcements to go out.
He could have sent this amazing message to the world. And He sends out a birth announcement like none other — with angelic messengers, bright lights and glory.
We might expect heaven to be excited and have shouts of praise for this once in history event. Never before had God taken on human flesh. This was new, this was exciting, this child would change the world. But the dramatic twist in this story is to whom this angelic birth announcement is sent to.
The announcements certainly would not be sent to the common everyday, ordinary blue collar workers, would they?
And here’s the twist in God’s birth announcement. There in Bethlehem was born the King of kings, the Lord of lords. God visiting our planet once and only once in the flesh. No other births, no other announcements to be given out. This was it. This was the biggest event in human history.
The mayor of Bethlehem doesn’t get an announcement. The High Priest is left out of the loop. King Herod and the royal court don’t get the news. No high ranking officials, none of the movers and shakers get an announcement. Instead, God’s birth announcement goes to a group of shepherds on the outskirts of Bethlehem.
Have you ever considered — Why? Why the shepherds? Why not more noble recipients of this glorious news? Why waste the greatest news on shepherds?
I’m sure there are many reasons God chose to reveal this breaking news to Sheep herders. I believe two of the main reasons are — first, I believe God intentionally provides a glimpse into the nature of Jesus’ ministry as the Good Shepherd; and secondly, God intentionally seeks out people who are overlooked, disregarded or counted out.
I want to look at the fact that God intentionally sent His birth announcement to those who were considered on the low end of the popularity scale.
It might help to look at Shepherding. Today we see shepherd figurines around the nativity scene and we think ‘what a cute little lot they were, with such holy faces and pure hearts.’
The shepherds that received the angelic announcement, were not necessarily the well mannered, clean cut altar boys, one might imagine. Shepherds were considered social outcasts. They didn’t fit in with the culture. They didn’t have a 9-5 job, with 2 kids, a two car garage, and a fence with a swing in the backyard.
They worked 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They didn’t have a home life. They were wanderers and drifters — living and moving around with the sheep. They didn’t look good, they didn’t smell good, they used crude language, they were uneducated and unsophisticated.
They led the sheep to grass and water. They watched while the sheep grazed and looked out for predators like wolves. At night, they slept in the sheep pen with the sheep to guard against theft and attacks. A good shepherd could identify each one of his sheep by sight. He knew his sheep and they knew him.
In John 10:14-15, Jesus said,
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me —
15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father — and I lay down my life for the sheep. ”
It’s this image we hold onto when we think of comforting psalms such as Psalm 23, when we consider “The Lord is My Shepherd.” It is Christ who is our shepherd, leading us to streams of everlasting water. So, when we think of the shepherds, we can imagine what Christ was called to do in leading us.