Offstage Christmas: Shepherds

Offstage Christmas: Shepherds

It it easy to overlook the shepherds in light of the angels’ announcement of the birth of Christ. But God chose to direct the announcement of the Savior’s birth not to kings and royals but lowly shepherds. What was it about these shepherds that would cause God to send angels to proclaim good news to them?

Shepherds: Shepherds were considered dirty, despised, uneducated outcasts who were near the bottom of the social class ladder. No one ever wanted to be a shepherd when they grew up. And these shepherds didn’t just work out in the fields, it says they lived out in the fields (cf. homeless). They were considered dishonest and unreliable (testimony was inadmissible in court). They were considered spiritually unclean, therefore disqualified from entering the Temple to have their sins forgiven. In other words, a constant sense of inadequacy, not “good enough” and feeling far from God.

Humanity: the social condition of the shepherds is a picture of the spiritual condition of humanity - broken, flawed, and imperfect in need of hope and redemption. If you want God’s peace in your life, you must see yourself as a shepherd with no other hope of being made right with God.

Angels tell the shepherds: “peace on earth to those whom His favor rests” (2:14). God’s favor rests upon us because of God’s love for us in Christ. God loves the shepherds (those who seem unworthy of His love) and He loves us.  Can God actually love someone like me? God doesn’t come to the religious, but people who consider themselves outsiders - people who long to be reconciled to God but feel they have no hope.

Good News: These shepherds point to the Ultimate Shepherd, Jesus Christ who gave his life up as a sacrifice for us. Peace with God comes through Jesus Christ - the pure, spotless Lamb of God who has come to take away the sins of this world - the invitation is for us to participate in the story of God’s good news of peace, love and hope.