There were some shepherds in a field at night taking care of their sheep when a bright light appeared. The sudden appearance of a bright light on a dark and quiet night must have been absolutely terrifying and so it is no surprise that the angel’s first words are ‘do not be afraid’.
The angel continued,
“I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Saviour—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
Shepherds couldn’t go to the synagogue or temple because they had to watch over the sheep. They were poor and insignificant people who were not able to go to the Jewish equivalent of church.
What does it tell us about God’s priorities that the shepherds were the first people to be told about the arrival of his son, the saviour of the world?
God cares about the poor and the marginalized. These shepherds were on the equivalent of zero hour contracts with minimum wage, they had no status or significance in society and yet God gives them a great privilege of being the first to hear the amazing news of God’s special offer of salvation. God values and loves everyone, not just the rich and important people.
The first people who God invites to meet his son are a group of people who would have felt far away from him. In doing this, God signifies what the coming of Jesus is all about! Jesus came to bring reconciliation between God and humanity and to show that God loves the whole world.
The shepherds who thought that they weren’t worthy of God’s presence were the first people to encounter the presence of God that they surprisingly found in a baby.
The shepherds who thought that they could never be saved were the first people to encounter the saviour of the world.
This encounter with Jesus changed their lives and all of us can still encounter Jesus today!
Perhaps you are reading this and you don’t usually go to church and perhaps you even think that God is not interested in you. I hope the shepherds and the angels will inspire you to realize that God really does care about and value you.
This is a part of a series of short thoughts for advent to help us to consider the events surrounding the birth of Jesus as we prepare ourselves for Christmas. You can look at the other advent reflections by clicking here.
You can read more about the shepherds encounter with the angels in Luke 2 starting at v8.