My first job was at a place called “Sheep Pasture.” It was a fun job. My favorite responsibility was walking through the sheep pen and pulling thorny weeds. Sheep aren’t very smart animals, and they’ll eat the thorns, so you need to pull them. After working in the animal pens, I’d get home and be told, “Mike, you stink! Take a shower!”
As we continue to consider the Unsung Heroes of Christmas, I want to think about the shepherds who came to visit the newborn Jesus. The shepherds remind us that the gospel is for outcasts.
God’s Birth Announcement
When my kids were born, my first phone call was to my mom. With great joy and excitement I screamed into the phone, “Mom! It’s a boy! I have a son!” Guess who were the first people to whom God sent his birth announcement: the shepherds. The shepherds’ story is told in Luke 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 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.
Luke 2:8-11, NIV
Shepherds were outcasts. They were seen as thieves and liars. They were so looked down upon, their testimony wasn’t even valid in court! If they were the only witness to a crime, they still couldn’t testify in court about what they saw… no one believed a shepherd. But these were the first people God told about the birth of the Messiah!
The shepherds didn’t “DO” anything, but they represent the very people Jesus came to save: outcasts and sinners who knew their need for grace.
Thankful God Loves Shepherds
If you’ve ever felt unimportant, invisible, like you don’t matter and people don’t take you seriously… then let the shepherds remind you that the gospel is for you!
If you don’t identify with the shepherds, then let this remind you to look out for others. Sometimes it’s just too easy to overlook people who might feel left out. This isn’t a guilt trip, we aren’t all shepherds, and that’s ok. But let this be a reminder that God cares for shepherds and outcasts, and we should too.
We’ve Got Good News!
One of the amazing things in the shepherds’ story comes after they meet baby Jesus. Luke 2:17-18 tells us, “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.”
They had every reason to mind their own business and keep the good news of Jesus to themselves. But they couldn’t hold it in! When something that good news of great joy comes to you, then you simply must tell people. And guess what… people actually listened to them!
God can (and will!) use you to bring good news of great joy. Even if you’re an outcast and “invisible,” remember that Jesus is the greatest news the world has ever known. Let him capture your heart this Christmas season.
Next time you look at the nativity statues set up in your living room… pay attention to those shepherds. Let them remind you that God’s plan has always been a rescue plan for outcasts and sinners who know their need for mercy and grace!
I’m so thankful the gospel is good news of great joy for all people… even for shepherds and outcasts!