Summary: Why would God use such unlikely messengers?
It does seem like there is a socially acceptable level of charity or giving or caring is raised a bit around Christmas time. But even then there is a limit to what people will allow. I mean your suppose to be nice, your suppose to share gifts, your suppose to give a little extra to the church and to missions this time of year, but man don’t go to far as to allow them to interfere with any or our traditions.
If there is one thing that is clear from the stories of Christ’s birth in the New Testament it is that God consistently and intentionally broke with popular tradition to call, bless, and exalt the overlooked.
Look again at the this popular passage from the Bible. Even people who are not familiar with the Bible have heard and perhaps even read this passage. Luke chapter 2:8-20.
READ: Luke 2:8-20
Get the context, Mary is accompanied by her beloved Joseph. They are in Bethlehem in a lowly place (a stable or cave or barn) very likely surrounded by animals. While Mary is laboring to deliver her first born Son, God the father paces nervously in the halls of heaven, as he observes the birth of his own Son.
Through the pain of delivery comes the beautiful baby boy. He is wrapped in strips of clothing to keep him warm. And it is as if God the father had to spread the news. He sends out a birth announcement like none other. With angelic messengers, and bright light and glory he let’s the word out.
We might expect heaven to be excited and break forth in shouts of praise for this once in history event. Never before had God taken on human flesh. This was new, this was exciting, this child would change the world.
But the dramatic twist in this scenario is to whom this angelic birth announcement is sent.
Now when Princess Diana delivered Princes William and then Prince Harry, I don’t know if they sent out birth announcements, but I would imagine they would go to national heads of state, Political players, those with Royal blood, the aristocracy, famous people. Presidents, governors, senators, - human stars. The announcements certainly would not send them out to carnival workers or to truck drivers.
Herein lies, the twist in God’s birth announcement. There in Bethlehem was born the King of all kings, the Lord of all lords, God visiting our planet this once and only once. One Son of God, no other births, no other announcements to be given out. This was it. This was the biggest event in human history. And the mayor of Bethlehem doesn’t get the announcement. The High Priest in Jerusalem is left out of the loop. The Caesar and the members of his Royal court are don’t get the news. None of the officials, none of the power elite get the announcement.
The palace doesn’t hear, the temple doesn’t hear, Jerusalem doesn’t hear.
This birth announcement that God gives out goes to a group of Sheep herders on the outside of Bethlehem.
The question quickly arises, Why? Why the shepherds? Why not more noble recipients of this glorious news? Why waste it on shepherds?
There are I’m sure many reasons God chose to reveal this breaking news to Sheep herders. We will look, this morning at two of them. 1. By giving the message of the birth of Jesus to the shepherds, I believe God intentionally provides a glimpse into the nature of Jesus’ ministry as the Good Shepherd. 2. God intentionally seeks out and uses those that people consistently overlook, disregard, or count out.
Let’s look at the first. By appearing to Shepherds, emphasizes Jesus’ connection to Shepherding. There is a connection between Shepherding and the life and ministry of Jesus.
A. Great leaders in Israel’s history had a connection with shepherding. Jesus would be a shepherd in the line of other great shepherds in Israel’s history. Moses and David were once shepherds before become the great prophet and king respectively.
Abel, the first acceptable worshiper after the Fall was a shepherd.
In Exodus 3, we read of Moses being called while shepherding the flock of his father Jethro, when he experience the presence of God in the burning bush.
King David was a shepherd boy when he was anointed by Samuel as King of Israel. He rose from shepherding sheep, to shepherding the people of Israel.
Psalm 78:70 He chose his servant David, calling him from the sheep pens. 71 He took David from tending the ewes and lambs and made him the shepherd of Jacob’s descendants – God’s own people, Israel. 72 He cared for them with a true heart and led them with skillful hands.
God had in times past raised up shepherds to lead Israel to a greater knowledge of God. And now in that same tradition, the master Shepherd of Israel the (sheep) had just been born. The Shepherd of shepherds.