Summary: A look at why God chose shepherds to hear the news if the King of Kings birth.
When Jesus was born we read this in Luke’s gospel. (Luke 2:8-20).
I don’t know about you, but one of the things I really enjoy and this may seem a little strange is a sudden change in the weather. It’s more fun if the wind changes and if the temperature drops all the better, my favorite is the change from the Nor’wester to a Southerly with its cold blast coming up from the Southern Ocean.
Now for the Christmas story from the Shepherd’s perspective.
Well I have absolutely no idea how the wind was blowing on that first Christmas night – but it would be my best guess that the sudden change from sitting around keeping an eye on the sheep to having an Angel address them had more of an impact on the Shepherd’s than a decent southerly blast. Think about in a modern day circumstance, sitting down at work, maybe on the couch watching Tele, in the supermarket, and an angel appears with the Glory of the Lord shining around them!
There’s a distinct likelihood that you too would be terrified. The angel’s message was clear “Do not be afraid!”
(Lets join in singing of this memorable occasion.)
(Sing ‘While Shepherd’s watched their flocks by night.”)
Not only that once the Shepherd’s pulses were returning to somewhere near normal – the great company of heavenly hosts appeared with the angel – “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased.”
A bit of a rough night on the Shepherd’s cardiovascular systems.
Now the Shepherd’s being Shepherd’s, once the angels had gone back into heaven discussed matters and went off to Bethlehem.
I guess that there’s nothing unusual about this, Shepherd’s off to see the King! Not just the King but the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords – born of a virgin, his birth announced by angels and there he was lying in a manger.
Why out of all the people God could have chosen to send the angel to did he choose Shepherd’s? These men of great esteem, these men of wealth and honor!
No, these men were Shepherd’s!
These men slept in the gate ways of encloses on the ground to protect their sheep, these men who were ritually unclean, who had to deal with sheep giving birth, who would have dealt with daggs and foot rot, who would have handled dead animals, who because of their work could not follow the orthodox rules of the day, who because they looked after sheep could not obey the Sabbath law. These men were the lowest of the low in the eyes of their fellow ‘religious’ Jews.
But God esteemed these men; he honored them, these Shepherd’s with the news of the birth of his only begotten son, The King of Kings.
I think there are a few reasons:
1) The first may seem a little simple; I believe that God has a particular liking for Shepherd’s. Think about this, King David was a Shepherd; Abraham owned sheep, as did many of the great men of the bible, God himself is often compared to, or addressed as a Shepherd. One of the most famous of Psalms is the 23rd and David starts it by declaring “The Lord’s my Sheppard…”
2) I think also that God has a real regard for the down trodden and a desire to see them in relationship with him, and while others looked down on the Shepherd’s, particularly the religious people. God, wanted to show his love for all people, by including the Shepherd’s in the greatest event to ever occur, the coming of the Christ. (pause)
The love of God is such that he “did not send his son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17)
God is interested in all of mankind not just a select few _ all are welcome before his manger - whoops did I say manger I meant to say his throne of Grace. God gives his grace freely to all who will ask!
3) The Third point is that some Shepherd’s around Bethlehem looked after some sheep that were very special sheep. These sheep were selected for a special purpose. Some of the sheep raised on the hills surrounding this town of Jesus birth were to be sacrificed at the Temple in Jerusalem as sin offerings.
Could it be more appropriate that the same Shepherd’s that looked after the temple sacrifices were among the first to gaze upon the Lamb of God who would take away the Sin of the World.
Like the Shepherd’s we can come before God – before this King born in a manger, we can come unclean, rule breakers travelling the road to God who esteems us for his own sake, by his own Grace. No longer having to raise our own sacrifices but accepting the sacrifice he made for us.