Contemplating Christmas: Shepherds

If you’ve been following British news, you know that Prince William and Kate Middleton are expecting their first child.  If all goes well, the royal baby is expected to arrive next summer.  But regardless of when he or she is delivered, we can certainly expect a lot of fanfare to be made around the arrival of this child who will be third in line for the throne of England.  However, I rather doubt that any special arrangements will be made to personally give details of the birth to the bus drivers and dock works of London.  The cabbies and sanitation workers in the city probably won’t be getting invitations to come visit the future king or queen at the hospital either.

But that’s exactly the kind of announcement and invitation God the Father made about the birth of His Son over 2000 years ago.

 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby,
keeping watch over their flocks at night.
 An angel of the Lord appeared to them,
and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.
I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2:8-11

Shepherds of first century Jerusalem were not the kind of people who would normally have been recipients of important news.  They were social outcasts, and considered unclean by the religious system of the day.  And though they raised the sheep for the sacrifices, they were prohibited from entering the temple themselves.  They were smelly, dirty and hung out on the edges of Jewish life and culture.  In short, they were usually the kind of men that you wouldn’t want your daughter to marry.  But these were the people… in fact, the only people… who were personally invited to the birth of Jesus Christ.

 Why do you suppose the Lord chose to send the most important birth announcement in history to this particular group of ragged men?

I think the answer is given to us by the angel himself.  Look at those familiar words again.  “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”   Generally speaking, rulers aren’t concerned about “all the people.”  I mean, how many times during the recent election do you think the candidates entertained the poor, sick, young or old unless the press was around?  Yet, how often were there news reports of them hosting lavish dinners for the wealthy and influential?   It’s the same now as it was then. Those who had little influence or were not well off were often overlooked by those who sat in places of authority.

But on that first Christmas, the angels showed up to a group of lowly shepherds to tell them a new ruler had been born, and this One was not like any before.  He would be a Savior… yes, a Shepherd… for all people, including, and perhaps especially for, those who have been ignored and forgotten by the world.

The invitation to come to Jesus was first extended to the outcasts of the world because that’s the essence of the message He came to bring.  Later he would state it more succinctly and clearly.  “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”  (Luke 19:10) If you haven’t ever identified yourself as particularly lost or forgotten, remember that we were all born as outcasts from God’s family. (Col. 1:13) His message to you is the same today as it was for those shepherds so long ago.

A Savior has been born for you.”  He is Christ the Lord!

No matter where you are in your relationship with the Lord, you have been given a personal invitation to come and see the King of kings. Don’t miss Him this Christmas. Draw near and respond to Him as those first shepherds did, by “glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”  Luke 1:20

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