Summary: We would announce the birth of the Christ to the rich and famous. But God chose to announce His birth to people working in the most humble occupation imaginable. Why?
“In the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
‘Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’
“When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.”
When her child came home from Sunday School, a mother asked him what he had learned. He told her that he had learned about Moses leading the Children of Israel out of Egypt. The mother, hoping to fix the account firmly in his mind, encouraged the lad to tell her the story.
The child responded, “Pharaoh wouldn’t let the Israelites go. So God sent Moses to organise a raid to distract the Pharaoh. While the Egyptians were distracted, Moses quickly got all the people moving. They marched and marched until they came to the Red Sea. Pharaoh and his whole army were right behind them. Moses quickly ordered the engineers to make a pontoon bridge across the sea and the people marched over. Once he was on the other side, Moses sent sappers to destroy the bridge with explosive charges, but the Egyptians were moving too fast. Pharaoh was at the bridge, threatening to cross any moment. So, Moses used his walkie talkie to call the Air Force to drive the enemy back with bombs and rockets. The Israelites were able to destroy the entire army and blow up the bridge so no Egyptians could follow them.”
The mother listened with wry amusement to the child’s account before saying, “Are you certain that is what you teacher told you?”
“No,” the lad responded, “but if I told you what she said, you wouldn’t believe it either.”
Many people don’t believe the Christmas story; it seems too fantastic. Moreover, the account defies our sense of convention. Frankly, if you or I were writing the Christmas Story, we’d try to make it as exciting as possible. If the advertising we produce is any indication, we are convinced that the birth of God’s Son should be announced to great and powerful people. We want to ensure that the matters we promote give us a “leg up” in the world. However, God chose to announce the birth of His Child to shepherds. Shepherds were among the least influential people in all Israel; they were nobodies. How odd that God chose to announce the birth of His Son to people that had no stature in the eyes of this world!
The question posed by the interlocutor betrays a misperception concerning God’s character as well as an overly optimistic estimate of man’s goodness. Rather than accepting that we are created in the image of God, we attempt to create God in our image, which will never do. We will do well to accept God’s own assessment of His thinking. Speaking for God, Isaiah writes:
“My thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
[ISAIAH 55:8, 9]
It should be immediately obvious that if we will understand why God chose to announce the birth of His Son to the humblest individuals imaginable, we need to get inside of God’s mind. Admittedly, this is an impossible task, unless we receive God’s own revelation of Himself.
Mankind generally has a high estimate of himself. When confronted with God’s assessment of our condition, it is almost automatic to minimise our sinfulness. We might be genuinely forgetful, not remembering our wickedness; however, it is more likely that we don’t want to remember all the sin that contaminates our lives. God’s assessment of mankind is pretty dark. He states, “There is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins” [ECCLESIASTES 7:20].