A few days ago we saw on TV a presentation of one of the best artists in the country, and of course many important people were present including our president and his family. It is normal and part of the deal. If you will have the best, you should invite the most important people to watch. People rarely present big productions to small a group of people, much less to unimportant people.
That attitude was totally discarded when it comes to the birth of Jesus and the announcement to the shepherds. In chapter 2 of Luke’s Gospel we find the best show that a human being could watch. Luke describes it with these words: “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, Luke 2:13.” The word company implies many, a multitude, and also an “army”.
These shepherds already had a tremendous encounter with an angel who announced the birth of Jesus. Now he is joined by a multitude of heavenly angels who were singing and glorifying God. What an event! I believe that showbiz producers would give anything to see that production. The light, the angels, the vestments, the voices, the sound, etc.
The challenge with this whole thing is not the production and the event in itself. The problem is the audience – a small group of shepherds in the middle of nowhere. During that time and in that area there were more important people who could be invited. Just to mention a few: King Herod the Great, the High priest, the members of the Sanhedrin, the governing body of Israel. Other priests could be included as well as politicians and governors. But they were not.
God reserved that show for a few uneducated and poor shepherds. It was not even a big group, maybe 10 or 15, maybe even smaller. It was to that group that God sent His choir to sing and announce the birth of His Son.
That is a pattern that will become a commonplace in Jesus’ ministry. If you remember, many times Jesus emphasized the reason for His coming. In the beginning of His ministry He made it very clear: “The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:17-19.” In another passage He said: “He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” Matthew 15:24.” And when the disciples of John the Baptist asked if He was the Messiah, He answered: “Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Matthew 11:4-5.”
This makes clear that God treats the poor, the sick, the lost, the minority with a special deference. The story of the shepherds illustrates how much God loves those whom nobody cares for. Because of their lowly status He treats them in very special ways.
My brother and sister, God, the Creator of the universe, loves you, cares for you, and sent Jesus, His one and only Son for you. In this season, be like the shepherds: enjoy what God did and what He is doing for you now. Be grateful, worship, and proclaim.
Have a blessed and Merry Christmas,