And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
- Luke 2:8 – 14
When Jesus was born, an angel appeared to shepherds and gave them good news of great joy. A savior had been born for them.
This is a startling part of the Christmas story. In those days shepherds were social outcasts. They were marginalized, laughed at and looked over. After all, shepherds spent most of their time with smelly and stubborn animals. They didn’t make a lot of money. They were not welcome in the temple for worship. They were often seen in their society as transient thieves. Nobodies. Homeless men. The unwanted and unsafe. In other words, not the kind of men you’d want holding your newborn baby.
Personally, as I think about the shepherds, I imagine a group of smelly men who are tired of people shifting their eyes away and pretending they didn’t see them. I imagine lonely men who spent many cold, dark nights wondering in silence if anyone really cared. I imagine poor men working a job nobody wants. I imagine homeless men forced by their circumstances to ask a rather painful question: Does my life really matter?
So imagine the joy that must have flooded into the shepherds’ hearts, when one night, as they are keeping watch over their flocks, they get welcomed into the greatest story ever told. And then they get told that a savior has been born for them. And then troops and troops of angels suddenly show up. And then the angels start singing a beautiful song of praise to God.
All of this must have been very healing for the shepherds. Before this moment I don’t think the shepherds thoughts anyone was particularly pleased with them. But now they know that a savior has been born for them and God is smiling on them. For so many nights they probably wondered if anyone cared, but now they know God has given them a place in his great redemption story. I can almost see the shepherds smiling while the angels’ Christmas song is rising. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!
I’m sure this moment left an indelible mark in their memories. A moment they would revisit and retell. A song that their soul would sing over and over again. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Today, I’d like to encourage you to spend a few moments identifying with the shepherd. To do this, allow yourself to name those times in your own life when you’ve felted unnoticed. Give yourself permission to ask the questions that most of us avoid because they are too painful to consider: Does my life really matter? Does anyone really care about me?
Now lean in with the shepherds and listen to the angel’s good news of great joy. A savior has been born for you. Jesus left heaven to save you from your sins. Christ came into the world for you.
This is God’s Word to the shepherds. It cannot fade – not a single word can fade away, because it isn’t just a message for a few shepherds. It is God’s Word to you. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.