“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! 1And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”- Luke 2:8-12.
Can you imagine being visited by an angel? Back in the mid-1990s, there was a popular TV series called “Touched by an Angel.” The show’s premise followed three angels as they quietly showed up in those big, crossroads moments of people’s lives. Only, it wasn’t until the end of each episode that the angels revealed their true nature. It was a powerful show because there is something reassuring about knowing you weren’t alone in those dark, trying times.
Imagine you are a mechanic at a local car dealer. You are working on fixing a transmission that is slipping. You are making steady progress when an angel appears before you, hovering above the car. You are so scared you can’t move. You instinctively grab a wrench without thinking. Then, the angel speaks: “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people and God wants you to be the first to know!”
That would be something, wouldn’t it? It would be something that would be very hard to wrap your arms around. But this actually happened one night over 2,000 years ago to a group of shepherds who were just minding their own business and watching their flock of sheep in the hills of Bethlehem when an angel appeared to them in the sky. Can you imagine? What is interesting is that the shepherds believed the angel and “they hurried to the village…” (Luke 2:16) to find the Christ child. Scripture also records after seeing Jesus, the shepherds shared the message they had received about Jesus, and everyone who heard what the shepherds had to say was “amazed” (Luke 2:17-18).
When we read this story, it’s easy to forget that these shepherds had nothing to offer Jesus.
The shepherds were not religiously polished scribes, they were not socially connected men of influence, they were not wealthy merchants, and unlike the wise men, they did not come with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They lived under the stars with only the clothes on their backs, a staff to guide the sheep, and a rod for protection.
Out of everyone God could have chosen to announce this world-changing event, He chose a group of shepherds. It’s a reminder that there’s no hierarchy in God’s kingdom. God’s plan is a simple one, yet profound in depth and scope. He didn’t choose religious scholars to announce the birth of the Messiah. He chose ordinary people whom He knew would be obedient without question.
God sent His Son Jesus to save the world – this means everyone from lowly shepherd to a powerful world leader, and everyone in between.
- What can we learn from the story of the shepherds?