The birth of our Savior Jesus Christ was the most monumental event since the creation of the world. His coming brought the fulfillment of many prophesies, initiated a peace between God and man, and began His perfect life on Earth in preparation for His perfect sacrifice for our sins. Why then, did God choose to announce this joyous news to lowly shepherds instead of more prestigious people?
Shepherds at the time were considered to be at or near the bottom of the social hierarchy. It was a menial job yielding little or no glory. The profession was most likely thrust upon you against your will, rather than being a job you aspired to. Typically, children did not dream of working or studying hard so they could grow up to be a shepherd, as our children may hope to grow to be President or an astronaut. Your life as a shepherd may have been decided for you based on your family’s history or social status. Few abandoned other occupations to become a shepherd because there was little money or prestige in it.
The job consisted of a 24-hour vigil to make sure the sheep were safe. This responsibility meant long, sleepless nights preventing attacks from lions and other predators lest the flock be decimated. Extended periods of boredom would be interrupted occasionally by a few moments of sheer terror as the shepherd leaped to his feet to drive away or kill an attacking predator. Moreover, the sheep did nothing to aid the shepherd. Not being the smartest of God’s creatures, sheep have a habit of simply wandering off in ignorance and getting lost, day or night. When they did, it was the shepherd’s job to find them. To make matters even worse, the danger always lurked of thieves coming to help themselves to the spoils.
Nonetheless, being a shepherd was an honest calling and honest work. We are reminded that Abraham, David, and Moses were all shepherds at some point in their lives. David and Moses especially were called from leading sheep to leading God’s people. Now, with the birth of God’s Son, our Good Shepherd, the LORD chose to notify shepherds in the fields rather than those of greater status.
God’s calling the shepherds was a symbolic honoring of this lowly profession and the patriarchs who had served faithfully in this capacity. It also had practical significance. Because shepherds were abiding in the fields, they were not asleep as were the rest of the townsfolk. God needed people whose attention He could have fully, not half-conscious, drowsy aristocrats who were partial to slumber. The shepherds were not dozing peacefully in their beds; rather, they were watching attentively over their flocks.
These same shepherds were also watching attentively when God sent angels to announce the birth of His Son. No doubt they were surprised at this visit from Heavenly messengers; in fact, Luke 2:9 records they were sore afraid. The shepherds, however, were comforted and reassured by the angel that no harm would come to them. They were told the Good News that the Christ was born to you, in the city of David. Born to you, lowly shepherds, not just the rich and the powerful, but to anyone who believes (John 3:16).
It is not normal for an Earthly king to make an important announcement in the middle of the night to the lowliest servants in the kingdom. God, however, considered it normal and good to announce the birth of His Son, our Good Shepherd (John 10:14), to those who were abiding. Those who would hear from God must stir themselves up and be awake and alert to the messages He will bring. During this season celebrating Christ’s birth, let us all wake our spirits and abide in His love. It’s the normal thing to do.
“I’m Normal.™ I AM.”
It’s God Talking to You
In His love and service,
A servant of Jesus Christ
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