8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.Luke 2:8-9 (NIV)
I’ve been quite interested in the fact that the first people to hear about Jesus’ birth were Shepherds. This is the biggest news the world has ever heard. But this message wasn’t entrusted to royal officials, kings, or anyone you would think would be trusted with such a message.
As you know, I’m the why guy. I’ve always wanted to know why we do something, why things are the way they are and why God would announce the birth of His son, the Messiah to Shepherds. Unfortunately, every answer we can give about this is conjecture. There’s nothing I’ve come across in scripture that makes a definitive statement. But, I have some ideas.
For today I think it’s worth noting that Jesus’ coming offers Joy for all people. All. As in everyone on the planet, if they choose.
Up until now, God has been solely focused on the Israelite community. He hoped they would be His people and He would be their God. They were elite. But they never fully embraced this incredible gift. There were seasons in their history where they would live according to God’s ways and where they saw Him move on their behalf with incredible power. But they ended up going with idolatry instead of only worshipping God alone.
Even God’s chosen people had the choice not to be chosen.
People who weren’t born into the family could come in, but that was generally the exception and not the rule.
But with Jesus’ arrival, things changed. Yes, the angels announcement was made to Jewish shepherds. But, the announcement that was made to shepherds was:
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.Luke 2:10b-11
Joy for all people. The savior, the Messiah, the Lord was the savior for all people. In fact, John would summarize this best in the most beloved verse of our faith: “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but have eternal life.”
God so loved the whole world that he gave his son. Whoever believes in the son has eternal life.
My theory is, If God had announced his coming to kings and rulers, they would have used it as an opportunity to manipulate and acquire more power for themselves. Or, like we saw Herod, they would have tried to do away with the threat to their own rule.
But the shepherds weren’t concerned with any of that. They just wanted to see Him. They didn’t want to use him for their own purposes, they just wanted to see.
And that’s exactly what they did. (And so should we…)