Why the shepherds?

Many years ago, when our youngest son was about seven, he yelled for me to come.  Normally, I would have yelled back something like, “I’ll be there in a minute.”  Or “You come here.”  However, this time, I could hear in the tone of his voice that he had made a  discovery worthy of the Nobel Prize.  When I arrived I found him sitting with a book open on his lap.  His finger was tapping on a picture in the book.  With his face full of wonder he spoke. “Mom, you are never gonna believe this—there’s a picture of a guy in this book and he looks just like Dad.”  He paused for effect.  Then gave me the zinger, “AND HIS NAME IS BOB ROBERTS.” (his dad’s name)   I looked at the book he was holding.  It was my husband’s college yearbook.  My son had made an amazing discovery and this kind of information was meant to be shared!    

With Christmas days away, this story of our sweet boy made me thing of another proclamation that had to be shared. 

Luke 2:8-15 (NIV) 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.”

Why the shepherds?  Why didn’t the angel make this proclamation to the temple priests or the religious leaders or shout it over the whole town of Bethlehem?  Why did God give this "game changing" announcement to poor shepherds? 

A well-known Bible teacher named Alfred Edersheim says this, “We can trust that God had a specific purpose for this shepherd audience, and the work they performed suggests the reason. These men who watched the sheep meant for the slaughter received a divine message about the ultimate Lamb who would take away the sins of the world through His death and resurrection.”  Wow, that sounds amazing…

BUT, here’s another thought.  The birth of Jesus was God’s proclamation to the world that things were changing.  Everything was being turned upside down and inside out.  Jesus wasn’t born in a palace and there were no royal robes for Him.  He was born in a stable, wrapped in torn strips of cloth and laid in a manger. God was telling the Gentile world get ready; tax collectors, sinners, the poor—YOU ARE ALL WELCOME.  The shepherds were of little significance in society, but not to God.   They were the ones God chose to hear the birth announcement of His Son.  The reason this is important to me is because most of us at one time or another have felt like an outcast.  God was telling the world then and now—that the have-nots matter to HIM. 

Maybe that’s—Why the Shepherds!

Why the shepherds?
By Beverly Joy Roberts


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