Shepherds were the first to hear the news of Jesus’ birth. This is such an integral part of the Christmas story that we can easily miss its significance. To whom do you think the birth of such a child should be announced? Logically thinking, we would first tell people of prominence such as kings, queens and political leaders. Yet, God chose to share this amazing news of his son’s birth with lowly shepherds. So, how low were they? Shepherds were some of the most disrespected and demeaned people in society. If someone in the family had to be a shepherd, it was usually assigned to the youngest son. Shepherds were often slaves and they were normally uneducated with no means of advancement. But God saw them as worthy of being the first to hear the good news, the great news of the Messiah’s birth. “A Savior has been born to YOU.” even you!
Isa 9:6; Lk 2:8-14; Ro 3:20-22
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 that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Lk 2:8-11)
We are not so different from the shepherds; we often feel unworthy. They felt distant from God, because the religious system deemed them unclean, forbidden to offer sacrifices or go to the temple to make themselves right with God. People stayed away because touching an unclean person made you unclean also. Often we feel distant from God. The filthiness of our hearts and minds make us doubt our relationship with God and we feel unworthy. Shepherds also felt inadequate. With little education they didn’t fit into society. Their jobs were not 9 to 5. Everyday (24/7) the sheep required care. They couldn’t take off to honor Sabbath. They couldn’t fulfill the Jewish law as prescribed by the Pharisees. We often look at others and think they have it all together spiritually. They refer to verse and chapter of some Book of the Bible that we didn’t know existed. We begin to compare ourselves spiritually and we feel we are lacking, inadequate. And just as the shepherds we often feel unloved. Shepherds had the reputation of being thieves. Even if they were honest, the stereotype remained. They had little hope of a normal life and family. A father wouldn’t want to give his daughter to a shepherd. Religion and society failed them, just as it fails us. Only through the gift of Jesus’ Christ can we be made right with God. It’s about grace. It’s about a relationship with Jesus. The Law and religion only make us realize how sinful we are. Grace sets us free, offers forgiveness, no strings attached.
Are you confident of where you stand with God? Do you have doubts? If not, how did you arrive at a place of confidence? If you do have doubts, what do you need to do to dispel them? When do you feel distant from God? Do you ever feel inadequate spiritually? Do you ever feel unloved by God?
Take time to thank God that, “unto YOU a Savior has been born!” He loved you that much!
Dear God, thank you for looking down and counting me as worthy of the great gift of your Son Jesus. Thank you for salvation. Thank you for grace. Thank you for the personal relationship I can have with you each and every day through Jesus! Fill my heart with Christmas! In Jesus Name I pray, amen.