Summary: Why tell the shepherds that a baby is born?
Why the Shepherd’s?
I chose today’s scripture on purpose for today’s sermon. We don’t often consider all of the different aspects of the Christmas story, so I want us to think about the story from the eyes of someone else, from a different angle. When we think of the shepherds we think of men who tend the sheep, and that is what they do. But the shepherds were not considered the type of people you wanted your daughter to marry.
They led a very lonely existence, always by themselves, or with men like themselves. They were loners, they didn’t like to be around people, and it made them nervous to be in a crowd. They were for the most part outcast, considered unclean, untouchable by society. They were people not welcome at parties. People were very suspicious of them, if something came up missing it was blamed on the shepherds. They always smelled like sheep, dirty, nasty people.
Can you imagine living like this, a very lonely life? The only company they kept was with the sheep or other shepherds. People like themselves, who would often herd their sheep to the same field for grazing and the added security. This may have been the case this particular night for it says there were shepherds, plural, more than one who watched their flocks by night.
These were men who saw the stars every night and knew the constellations by name. This very bright night was different, this one star stood out. To people who were probably very superstitious this could have seemed like the end of the world. This in itself would cause them to tremble with fear! A star so bright it was almost as bright as day!
Why would God choose men such as these to send the angels to tell of the birth of the Messiah, the God child, a savior?
We often speak of the mysteries of God, when something in the bible happens that we don’t fully understand we call it a mystery. It is fully comprehensible to God but we as humans don’t fully grasp the reason for it. We call it one of the mysteries of God.
But I don’t think this story from Luke is one of those mysteries.
Personally I think God made a very wise choice.
God chose men who would believe. Who would not question God’s decision. For thousands of years, rumors abounded of the coming Messiah.
The Jews were expecting a Messiah. But not a baby, not a little child who would need a diaper change and need to be breast fed. And certainly not from the womb of a little peasant girl and a carpenter.
They were expecting a great general who would lead them to victory over the entire world and set them upon the throne of leadership. Great and mighty, glorious in power over all things. But a baby, born in a manger, who would be king over the Jews?
It simply was inconceivable.
A King is born to royalty, and in a mansion, with nursemaids to take care of his every need. With royal blankets and clothes made of the finest material. He would be taught by the brightest teachers, Scribes and Pharisees. He would have the best of everything, including great wealth and power. He would be so charismatic the people would follow him without question.
In other words a warrior king, a king over all kings, a king without equal.
That’s not what God had in mind, God chose not to ignore the rest of his creation and place them as slaves, subject to the Jewish rule.
But instead made Jesus king over all the World, a king over all kings. A king without equal. To the Jew first and also the gentile. The most humble of birth, to become “like us”.
And the wise men sought him out, following a star that led to a manger, a feeding through for animals, wrapped in swaddling clothes, which means rags, pieces of old discarded clothes.
I find it interesting that wise men still seek him, Shepherds still believe. He was not a charismatic warrior king, yet nations bow before him!
Now I want you to pretend just for a moment that you are those shepherds, sitting by your campfire, the sky is all lit up by this one star. You are cold, and scared, imagining all sorts of reason for that star, then the sky opens up and angels speak to you. Now just listen,
Listen as if you were those shepherds that night, listen to the voices of thousands of angels singing praises to God. Tremble before the majesty of the event as it took place. Bow down and
listen quietly and hear the whisper of the voice of the angel saying:
For unto you this day, in the city of David, a child is born, a savior, who is Christ the Lord.