Summary: In the story of God’s announcement to the shepherds are some important truths for us today.
Experiencing the Birth of Christ With The Shepherds
The telling of the Christmas story can be such a familiar and common experience that we miss the significance of it. With the annual repetitions the familiarity of the story of the shepherds can cause us to take it for granted, to overlook just how amazing this incident is. So this year I want to challenge you to see it again for the first time. Who does God announce the birth of his son to? Too whom would you expect the announcement to go? We could see how God might choose to announce the birth of Christ to Herod the king. We could see how he would want to announce the birth in a splendid ceremony in the Temple led by the High Priest. But we have trouble understanding why he would choose a ragtag band of shepherds.
The only invitation from God to anyone to come and visit Mary and Joseph and the infant Jesus is to a group of shepherds. At best the shepherds were common, ordinary folks. They were not the socially elite. Most likely these shepherds were tending their sheep just outside of Bethlehem and the sheep they were tending were probably sheep being prepared for the temple sacrifices. They were the last people that you’d expect God to take notice of.
In the story of God’s announcement to the shepherds are some very important truths. Begin reading with me in verse seven, “And she (Mary) brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (8) Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. (9) And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.”
1. They learned that everyone is important to God
The invitation of God comes to the most despised of people, outcasts from all respectable society. Their honesty and integrity was so questionable that they were not even allowed to testify in a court of law in those days. Shepherds were so far down on the list of social outcast that the only people lower were lepers.
I believe that God chose the shepherds because he wanted to show that His love is available to all. He is not a respecter of persons, he does not show more respect to kings than he does to hourly wage earners.
You may think; “If God is even aware that I exist, He probably doesn’t have a very favorable opinion of me!”
Deep down a lot people may feel like that. But no matter how insignificant you may think you are God knows you and you are important to Him.
The Apostle Paul explains this in his first letter to the Corinthians (1:26-28) “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. (27) But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; (28) and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,”
2. They Learned That God Has Wonderful News For All Who Will Believe
“Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. (11) For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (12) And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
Note with me that the message that the angel brought from God spoke to their most immediate need when the angel said, “fear not.” The Bible says that they were “greatly afraid.” When the angelic messenger suddenly appeared the shepherds reacted in a normal human would they were terribly afraid.
You too may have a heart filled with fear this Christmas. Fear about, your health, your family, your job security, the economy, or the world conditions. But we need not fear, we have “good tiding of great joy” because the savior was born. Because scripture has been fulfilled. Because Christ is LORD over all.
Notice too that this news “will be to all people.” This news is not just for a privileged few. Scripture says, “Whosoever will let him come.” Jesus came for pay for the sins of all sinners. He is available to all.