Summary: This message consider the Shepherds that first heard of the birth of Jesus. The message gives honor to those who are often overlooked.
Honor the Overlooked
This morning I want to consider the Shepherds that first heard of the birth of Jesus. I want us to give honor to those who are often overlooked.
Abraham Lincoln once said, "Die when I may, I want it said of me by those who know me best that I have always plucked a thistle and planted a rose when I thought a rose would grow." He said that after a brief visit from Laura Sue Jones on Christmas Day, 1864. Miss Jones was a 23-year-old young woman from the South trapped in Washington since the beginning of the war. She desired a pass to cross Union lines and travel to Richmond, where she planned to marry a Confederate soldier.
Moved by the emotional plea of this overlooked girl, President Lincoln nodded his head, picked up a pen, and wrote a special travel pass. Miss Jones was speechless. Falling on her knees before Lincoln, she grasped his hand in gratitude. He insisted she get up and thank God, not him. Rising, Miss Jones replied, "Good-bye, Mr. President, and may God bless you. I shall probably never again see you until we one day meet in heaven." Lincoln answered, "That you wish me to get there is, I believe, the best wish you could possibly make for me. Good-bye, Miss Jones." Mr. Lincoln honored this outcast thistle by re-planting her where she could bloom as a rose.
Serving as pastor often includes dealing with those who feel overlooked, outcast, and unappreciated. These may be people such as the elderly, homeless, or challenged in some way. God chose to honor some of low estate one night by sending to shepherds the first birth announcement of his Son. When a baby is born, the first to be called are usually the immediate family and closest friends--not strangers. Truly, the shepherds felt honored and surely asked, "Why us? Who are we? Shouldn’t the religious leaders know first?" Unlike the shepherds, most of the religious leaders were not of the right spiritual mind-set to receive such wonderful news.
Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 12:23 urge us to especially honor the less honorable.
“The parts we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.”--1 Corinthians 12:23
Is there an overlooked person you could honor in some way this Christmas? You may be thinking: "I can’t add another thing to my schedule, I’m neglecting my family as it is." You might invite a recent widower to join you for dinner at a restaurant after the Christmas Eve service. The person will thank you for thinking of him during the holidays. You might take fresh baked bread or cookies and delivered them to shut-ins.
As we honor the overlooked this Sunday we want to look for ways to connect with the disadvantaged. Ask the Lord to show you in what way you can pluck a thistle and plant a rose.
God chose lowly Shepherds first to hear the good news of the birth of Jesus.
Being a shepherd is a hard job. During Bible times, shepherds had to watch carefully over their sheep to protect them from robbers and wild animals. They also had to search for good pasture with green grass and fresh water. Often they stayed out all night in the fields with the sheep to make sure that they were safe. But although they were hardworking, many thought their job was lowly and not very important. They might have been overlooked and forgotten by most people because they were always out in the fields.
On the night that Jesus was born, God himself honored the shepherds and showed the world how important they were to him.
Can you imagine that God would choose the shepherds and not the priests at the temple, or the rulers in the King’s court, or the rich leaders in the city to be the first ones to hear about Jesus?
Angels appeared to the shepherds to tell them the good news of the birth of Jesus, the Christ and Messiah.
Luke 2:8 “In the same country,” high pastureland near Bethlehem. The same pastures David watched his father’s sheep. Shepherds were living in the fields watching their sheep. Among the Jews Shepherds was one of the lowest occupations.
#I never watched sheep at night like a shepherd but for three summers I did sleep out under the stars. For three summers I worked on a harvesting crew driving a combine cutting wheat. We traveled from Texas, to Oklahoma, Kansas, Wyoming and Montana—June through August. Every night we put up our army cot and slept under the stars. When it rained we put up a tarp in the back of the truck and slept under the tarp.
During my second summer out God began to speak to me about becoming a full-time Christian Worker. God spoke to me through a chorus that kept running through me mind: “Rescue the perishing and care for the dying.” A scripture verse was also on my mind: Jesus said, “Say not there are four months and then the harvest, look on the fields they are already ripe unto harvest.” (John 4:35) I kept sensing God saying, “Ray the harvest is great won’t you help me in the harvest of helping people by being a Minister of the Gospel.