“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.’” Luke 2:10 (NIV)
Imagine for a minute that you’re a shepherd in the Middle East long ago. Others would say you’re no one of any real significance, and you own very little. You don’t sleep in a bed; you sleep on the grass next to your sheep.
Being a shepherd isn’t a glamorous profession, but it’s a necessary one. Especially in this ancient context where sheep are essential for God’s people — not for warm sweaters and blankets but for sacrifices. For every one of your mistakes, mess-ups and hang-ups, sheep (or certain other animals like cows, turtledoves or pigeons) pay the price.
Sheep are born to die.
And as a shepherd, you always have job security because there is always a demand.
But imagine for a minute that one night you awake to a total stranger hovering above you, glowing.
“… Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” (Luke 2:10)
The angel tells you a baby has been born in the nearest village. But not just any baby — the Messiah, the promised Savior you’ve been waiting for.
But why you? Why didn’t the angel tell someone more notable, more worthy, more prestigious, first? Why a lowly shepherd like you?
You hurry to find a baby not born in a palace to the royal family, wrapped in the finest silks. No, you find a baby born to a young virgin mother and her carpenter fiance, wrapped in simple cloth in an animal trough.
You marvel at the scene before you. An unwed mother, who the law says should be stoned to death for conceiving a child outside of marriage. A humble carpenter, who believes his fiancee when she says she became pregnant via divine intervention, not traditional conception.
This isn’t the picture-perfect-Christmas-card image everyone expected of our long-awaited Savior. There’s no wealth or power or showy fanfare here at the birth of the promised almighty King — just farm animals and social outcasts.
Why would such a significant baby be born in such an insignificant way? Why would such significant news be told first to such insignificant people?
Look closely — the symbolism here is rich like chocolate cake: shepherds beholding the birth of a new Lamb. The Lamb of God. The all-powerful Savior, born to die for them. Not just for the elite, the rich, the other half. The Lamb of God came for the lowly, for the weak, for the shepherds sleeping next to the sheep.
The sheep on the hillside were born to die for some, but the Lamb of God was born to die as the final sacrifice for all.
The most powerful One came in the humblest way so that all are invited to know Him.
This isn’t just good news — it’s the best news we will ever receive.
The shepherds in Luke 2, like you and me today, may have imagined themselves as no one of any real significance. But because of one holy night, we now know the Significant One.
Jesus, I’m in awe of how You humbled Yourself for me, coming to earth to meet me in my insignificance. The simple details of Your birth paint a greater picture of Your radically inclusive love. Help me to spread this Good News! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
Luke 2:17-18, “After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished …” (NLT)
The shepherds couldn’t contain their excitement after seeing Jesus, and they spread the word to anyone who would listen. In what ways do you feel Jesus is calling you to share the Good News this Christmas season? Share with us in the comments!
© 2022 by Meghan Mellinger. All rights reserved.
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