Give me a word, Lord: WHY SHEPHERDS?

Luke 2:8-12 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

In our modern society, to announce the birth of a baby, birth announcements are sent in the mail or posted on social media to proclaim the good news of the birth to our friends and family and to those that are important to us, and the ones we love the most. When we have some good news to share, we can’t keep it all inside. But what if we have the most important good news in the world? Who would we share it with? Would we notify the president, the governor, or the city mayor? Would we call the news stations? Would we look for people in power to share this great news? Well, the absolute greatest news was the announcement of the arrival of the long awaited and prophesied Messiah. The religious leaders knew He was coming. They knew the Word. They knew the prophesies. Wouldn’t it make since to tell them first? If you remember, Jesus didn’t think too highly of these religious leaders. Yes, they knew the law, but the didn’t really know the Lord. If they were notified first, they may have acted smugly. The response may have been one of, “we told you so. We knew this would happen.” Or perhaps, they would have kept the good news under their hats not wanting to share it with the rest of the “undeserving people.” It is a possibility.

But our God chose to announce the birth of the Savior to the most lowly of society. Hey, shepherds were pretty grungy folks, y’all. They didn’t have a nice warm home to come back to every night like I do after feeding and tending my sheep. There wasn’t a luxurious shower awaiting them at the end of a long day. Nope, they didn’t have those simple pleasures. The shepherds of the biblical days took care of the sheep. They lived with the sheep. They slept with the sheep. I don’t know if you have had very much experience with sheep, but I’m here to tell you that sheep don’t smell like lavender and rosebuds. Those boogers are kind of stinky. I’m thinking if a person was to spend day and night with the sheep week after week, that person would be pretty smelly. Shepherds that tended the flocks were poor. They were not respected by society. But they did have an important job. They were tending those sacrificial lambs out in the fields near Bethlehem. They were protecting the sheep and keeping them safe. They had a job to do and like it or not, they did it.

God sent a herald of angels to tell these smelly, disrespected shepherds the greatest news that had been long awaited. He picked them: the lowliest in society, the ones that cared for the lambs. Oh, there is so much that we can read into this. Consider it for a moment. It is almost a foreshadowing of Christ’s great love for each of us. We may get all pumped up and think we are something special from time to time, or we may feel very low and insignificant. We may be dirty and soiled with sin. NONE of that matters to Christ. The good news is available to each and every one of us no matter who or what kind of person we are. Christ came for you, and He came for me! He wants every single one of us to know the Good News. The gift of everlasting life is not just for the important members and leaders of society. The Good News is for everyone…the lowest to the highest!

If you read a little further in this chapter of Luke you will see in verse 20, “The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.” I think perhaps this is another reason God chose to tell the shepherds first. They were afraid when the heavenly host of angels showed up in their field to announce the birth of Christ. They were probably shaking in their sandaled feet, but as soon as they got themselves together, they obeyed the angels and went straight to Bethlehem to see the Messiah. Wow, how awesome that must have been! The shepherds were the first known visitors to the King! But they didn’t wrap up this Good News nicely, put a big bow on it, and place it under a tree somewhere. No! They left after seeing the newborn King and glorified and praised God for what they had heard and what they had seen. They shared the Good News. They probably were bursting with excitement and couldn’t wait to tell every single person they came in contact with about the Savior! How could they not?

We could delve even further into the similes here. Christ is known as the good Shepherd, and He was also the unblemished Lamb of God. I don’t know all the reasons that God chose the lowly shepherds to announce the greatest event in history, but He chose them. I’m so thankful that this wonderful news is available to each and everyone of us. We don’t have to reach a certain status in life. We don’t have to clean ourselves up first. We don’t have to be wealthy or powerful. We can come right to the Savior, right now, just as we are. He’ll clean us up from the inside out. All we have to do is hear the Good News, receive the message, and act on it. And when we are filled the the Holy Spirit, we can’t help but do just as those shepherds did all those years ago. We can’t help but praise His name and glorify Him, and tell everyone the Good News! I pray you know the Savior today. If you don’t, there is no reason to wait any longer. He doesn’t care that you’re “not good enough.” We will never be good enough. He wants a relationship with you today. Just as you are!

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