Monday, December 27, 2010



Lk 2:8-20 - “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 terrified.

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 rests.’

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.’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”

So why shepherds? Why did God choose simple shepherds to herald the coming of His only begotten Son, the Savior of all humankind? Let’s look at why shepherds were NOT the obvious choice:
  • v. 8 - shepherds lived in fields, away from the general population. How could they spread the word, and for that matter, who would listen?
  • v. 9 - they were wimps! terrified of the angels that brought them news.
So why shepherds? Maybe God chose the only people on earth who’d grown accustomed to staring at the stars. Perhaps God could trust them to hear the full message...ALL the details:
  • v. 10 - the news was for all people.
  • v. 11 - this baby was the promised Christ, the long-awaited Messiah.
  • v. 12 - seriously, would anyone but herdsmen be willing to look in a feeding trough for a baby?
  • v. 13-14 - and who but shepherds were most familiar with the peace and glory of a starry night, though surely it’s just a glimpse of what’s promised by Heaven’s Hosts?
So why shepherds? Perhaps God chose them not just because of what they were but also because of who they were. They were not just shepherds, they were curious and diligent men.
  • v. 15 - curiosity may have killed the cat, but it also helped discover the Savior. The angels never commanded the shepherds to go to Bethlehem. They simply announced Jesus’ birth and let the shepherds holy curiosity do the rest.
  • v. 16 - these men “hurried off” to discover if the angel’s words were true.
  • v. 17 - and when they discovered the truth, they were diligent to share the news as the angels said.
So why shepherds? As Mary pondered these events in her heart (vs. 19-20), I wonder how often she remembered these smelly shepherds throughout Jesus’ lifetime.
  • Shepherds are the guardians of their flocks, protecting the sheep - Did Mary think the shepherds visit might have foreshadowed the protection they needed from Herod’s murderous plot to kill Jesus, when the wise men asked where the new king had been born? (Mt. 2:13 - “When [the Magi] had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.’”)
  • Shepherds cared for sheep and lambs - Did Mary remember the shepherds visit when John the Baptist referred to Jesus as the Lamb of God? (Jn. 1:29 - “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’”)
So why shepherds? Because God, in His infinite wisdom and glory, knew of the perfect role they’d play in this eternal plan. The real question is: Why me? And the only answer is: Glory to God in the highest. Emmanuel. God with us. Amen.