8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior-yes, the Messiah, the Lord-has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others-the armies of heaven-praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them. NLT
The first declaration, from heaven itself, telling of the birth of Christ was made to shepherds.
Shepherds were not people of social status. They were the lowly, the outcasts…in today’s political-vernacular, they would be the “deplorables.” Their work alone made them ceremonially unclean. They regularly came in contact with, not only, animals considered unclean by Jewish law…but also with the carcasses of dead animals which was definitely prohibited. In the Jewish “Mishnah” which was a written record of the Oral Law, refers to shepherds as being “incompetent, ” that “no one should ever feel obligated to rescue a shepherd who has fallen into a pit.” Friend, that’s not very high up the status scale. These weren’t the ones most people would invite to Starbucks, or even to church. These were outcasts. Who wants to hang with outcasts?
Well, apparently God does. When He’s getting ready to have the angel announce the birth of His only Son…when He is ready to declare the coming of the Savior, the Prince of Peace, the Messiah, He does not send His angel to the priests, the Pharisees, the religious leaders, the spiritually elite, the “one-percenters.” He sends the message of salvation first to the lowly, deplorable outcast.
Men, just because the world may not think much of you, or just because you may not have the most pedigreed credentials, don’t think for a moment that God overlooks you. On the contrary, that lowliness is the calling card that God sees as a qualifier. Don’t tell me God doesn’t have His eye on you!
26 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “Take off your jeweled crown, for the old order changes. Now the lowly will be exalted, and the mighty will be brought down. NLT
But the other part of this story that is so uplifting is that after hearing the announcement, these “social outcasts” didn’t sit around and wallow in their “lowliness.” They went to Bethlehem and found the Christ-child. And then verse 17 says, “After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child.” Amazing! Even though their lives may have been filled with prejudice, mistreatment, and injustice against them, they knew this news was too good to bottle up. Even their enemies needed to hear this good news. So these outcast shepherds gave their voice to the message that was first brought to these lowly ones. A message the proud desperately needed to hear.
Maybe you identify with the lowly outcast. That’s alright, as long as it’s the lowly outcast that came to realize God had not lost sight of him, and had actually entrusted him with a message of hope worth more than gold, and was willing to share that hope even with those that viewed him as hopeless.
Men, my prayer is that you would see the value that the God of heaven sees in you, and that through His grace and strength you rise above any label, any injustice, any mistreatment that has discouraged you or held you down. Listen friend…God’s love will make you bigger than you ever dreamed you could be!
“The will of God will not take us where the
grace of God cannot sustain us.”
grace of God cannot sustain us.”
– Billy Graham