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 that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, 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 heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
This is the divine entering into the mundane. This is the King of Kings coming to the lowly and the outcasts. And this is good news for everyone!
But, there are some strange things happening here. For one thing, who would choose to announce the birth of Christ to shep- herds? It wasn’t as if they were looked highly upon by any means. Shepherds were lowly, grimy, and sometimes viewed even as dangerous and rough. Their work prevented them from taking part in religious life. If you were going to announce the birth of the Messiah, they wouldn’t be the first people to whom you went…yet, that’s exactly what’s happening here.
As it so happens, shepherds were exactly the type of people for whom Jesus came. This passage could foreshadow the fact that Jesus would grow up to live life with other outcasts and menial people, disciple them, and eventually send them out to minister to the masses in His name. He encountered tax collectors who were shunned by their own communities because of their jobs; lepers, who were on the edges of society and with whom nobody wanted to come into contact; and even the dead. To come into contact with a corpse would make one ceremonially unclean, so the dead were to be avoided. And like Jesus’ ministry and the company He kept, the appearance of angels to shepherds was quite an interrup- tion of the status quo.
That holy night when Jesus was born, the shepherds were likely not expecting the tangible glory of God to appear before them in their fields — they were simply doing their jobs. The birth of Christ, the appearance of God’s glory, and the appearance of the angels is a collision of God and man, of divinity and humanity. Perhaps this is a reminder, in the hustle and bustle of our weeks, that the presence of the Lord surrounds us as we go about our lives.
The King of Kings has come for the lost and lowly. Divinity has come into humanity. Christ has come to the world, and His birth, life, death, and resurrection are for us all. Salvation isn’t reserved for royalty. Jesus’ friendship isn’t just for those who have it all to- gether. God’s presence is no longer contained to the temple. The invitation to walk with Jesus is open to the world. This is good news for everyone!
THINGS TO CONSIDER
Who is someone around me that needs to know that they’re in- vited to walk with Jesus?
Who might I view as a shepherd in my life — is there anyone with whom I do not wish to interact, or who I might look down upon?