“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 afraid. 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. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rest.” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
Luke 2:8-15 (NIV)
There are Nativity Manger scenes on most every corner of the Main Street where we live and I often find myself reflecting on the shepherds from Luke 2 as I walk or drive past them. The shepherds were the unlikely and unexpected chosen ones on the scene of Jesus’ birth. I identify with them.
Jesus birth was only the first step in God’s plan of salvation. From all eternity, God had planned to redeem the human race. In reality, God had already been preparing the way — but now He was taking on human flesh and becoming a man so that we could be saved. In time, that process would be completed through Jesus’ death and resurrection — but at first His plan was almost invisible.
When I ponder Luke 2, two things stand out to me about the shepherds:
- They were humble men; in fact, shepherds were looked down upon by many people. But Jesus Christ came for all people — rich and poor, male and female, uneducated and educated. By announcing Jesus’ birth to the shepherds, God was demonstrating His great love for every one of us, no matter who we are.
- They were busy doing what they were supposed to do - tending their sheep.
The angels appearing to them that night was quite a display! Luke 2 says, ‘Suddenly - a great company’. A great company translates into what could have been thousands. The sky lit up - there on the hillside in the watch of night. I can’t even imagine what that must have felt like. Can you?
I wonder - what if I? What if you?... had been present that first Christmas night? Would we have ignored - or would we have believed in our busyness or routine? Would we have been postured like the shepherds in welcoming God’s Son into the world — and into our hearts?
Unlikely, unexpected, afraid - yet with hearts postured to receive the invitation from God to believe in and respond to the miraculous.
This is how I want to live.
Like the shepherds.
Doing what I know to do now, with full surrender - always willing to respond to the Father’s heart to do what's next.
Man, by nature usually chooses the path of what seems rational - but God always chooses the path of least likelihood.
Lord would you make us like the shepherds? Would you open our eyes and move aside our humanness - helping us to live in your presence glorifying and praising God - astounding people as we go, drawing them to you? Our one and only Savior and Hope.