Summary: Regular everyday people are called to proclaim the Good News of Great Joy. We are the Shepherds of our day and age. We are the lowly messengers delivering the greatest news the world has ever heard.
The Advent telling draws us back each year by its poignant beauty revealing ever deeper things. We see our Heavenly Father illuminating the knowledge of the Wise men using a star. Allowing them to identify the place where Jesus the Messiah would be born. Then Shepherds watching their sheep at night are given the honor to proclaim the birth of the Good Shepherd to the world.
Is there an intentional metaphor here for us?
Our Heavenly Father had watched over us throughout the darkness of our humanity but now He would send His own Son by cover of night clothed in human form to deliver us from our darkness.
Maybe there is more here for us to discover?
If you had big news to share with the world how would you go about it? Call a televised press conference, give it to Wiki-Leaks, or send out an email, Tweet or maybe a Facebook message?
O.K. imagine that you have no such technology and that you are living in the first century A.D.
Naturally you would tell the local shepherds – right?
Shepherds were usually far removed from cities or towns. They often had to take the sheep to watering holes and grazing areas far from homes especially in the dry moths. They would not get the news of the city but they might from time to time encounter a caravan as it passed by and learn about what was going on in the world. Otherwise they were cut off from the world.
For Shepherds to be the heralds of the Messiah’s birth made sense. If they had some kind of wilderness news to tell you could be sure that no one else had such information.
But we must not forget about the supernatural that surrounds their informant.
Luke tells us in verse nine that “the angel of the Lord came upon them” well that usually is a reference to Gabriel. It would also be consistent with Mary’s experience when she was visited. Luke 1:19 & 26
What happened to these Shepherds was no campfire yarn. We are told “and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
These events read a lot like a modern day “close encounter of the third kind”. The Shepherds respond in a very normal way, “they were sore afraid.” Luke 2:9
Then Gabriel states the obvious…”Fear not”. At this point it’s safe to say that Gabriel had their full attention. The message is not one of condemnation but of congratulations “I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” Luke 2:10
While this clarification was most likely welcomed news the big news was the biggest ever in the history of the world to this date. “For to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour (Messiah) which is Christ the Lord.”
Just so the Shepherds wouldn’t mistakenly seek out just any baby they are given a sign to look for a very distinct and unique sign involving a manager.
Not the usual place to look for a new born baby.
After they are told where and how to find this Saviour suddenly a multitude of the Heavenly host appear with the Angel of the Lord praising God, saying…
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:11
The next verse of Luke Chapter 2 is one of the most believable. Think of it the Shepherds were not ordered to go to Bethlehem they were just told of what had just happened there.
But given they had all just had this supernatural experience I think it safe to say they were anxious to be around other people as quickly as possible. The Bible makes it sound as if they were all very calm and cool headed but I think there was a lot of emotion involved, as there should be.
The next verse adds that part clearly. Seeing is believing. They then spread the news far and wide concerning this miraculous birth of a Saviour.
Every caravan that passed their way was told the news so that people from far away countries would also hear about it. This wasn’t just a local story.
So how about you? Would you consider yourself an unlikely messenger? Do you have a prominent government position or are you like most of us just a regular person more a Shepherd type?
Well friend to you and I falls the responsibility to “spread the good tidings of great joy”.
For all intents and purposes we are the modern Shepherds of our time. We bear the glorious news that a Saviour has been born and we have even more of His magnificent life to tell.
That Jesus the only begotten Son of God born to a virgin lived a sinless life among us and at the time of God’s choosing He began a ministry of reconciliation and truth corroborated by many miraculous signs and wonders.