When I think about the Christmas story, I find myself wondering what it must have been like for the shepherds outside of Bethlehem who received the news from a host of angels. It would be overwhelming to get a message from just one angel—let alone thousands—but what really inspires my wonder is how God chose to include the shepherds in His story despite their social standing.
Jesus is For All
The nation of Israel comes from a respected tradition and heritage as nomadic shepherds in the time of Abraham. However, by the time of Jesus’ birth, during the Roman occupation, shepherds became some of the most scorned and outcast members of society. Israel was now a society of class hierarchy with the religious leaders at the top and shepherds very near the bottom. They would not have been offered relationship with anyone outside their class.
This fact makes the good news of Jesus’ birth even more wonderful. Jesus the Messiah could have been announced in a grand way; He could have come in human glory and been recognized by the most important people in the country. But even in His birth, Jesus chose to show the world that He loves and cares for ALL. He came for every individual – even the lowly Shepherds. He pursues the one. By having his birth announcement made to Shepherds—people who most other members of society would have literally turned their noses up at—Jesus sent the message that He came for all.
As we near Christmas day, and celebrate the birth of our Savior, take some time to wonder. Reflect on the people in your life who are on the outside and how you might follow the way of Jesus, and pursue the One.
The Christmas Story
Luke 2:8-15 says,
“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.’
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
‘Glory to God in highest heaven,
and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.’
When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’”
And here is where my wonder grows: in the shepherds’ response. The shepherds were so excited about this news! They went immediately to find Jesus, then told anyone who would listen about the birth of the promised Messiah. They were so hungry for relationship and hope, they responded with eagerness.
Consider this as you think about how to better love those on the outside. They are often eager and ready for something different. All it takes is someone offering relationship in the way Jesus does; showing up for the one in ways that go against society’s norms at Christmas and beyond.