Why not the shepherds?

The shepherds–have you ever wondered why God chose them to rush to the mangerside of the newborn Savior? Why they were the ones entrusted to spread the news?

Maybe they were swapping stories out there in the fields as they tended their sheep by starlight. Maybe their minds were drifting to their families snuggled up in warm beds. Either way, they were still watching, alert. And that’s why they were stunned to see the glory of the Lord.

Wolves? Sure. Thieves? Yah. But an angel? The glory filled them with “great fear,” the kind of fear of fallen man at the feet of a holy God. Maybe their wonder mixed with disbelief. “Can this really be happening? Am I dreaming?”

The angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 

And then the sky was filled with angels who were praising God, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

The light faded and the shepherds looked at each other, dazzled. Maybe they asked each other: “Did you just see what I saw?” 

But soon: “Let’s go check out what God told us!” And “with haste” they clattered into town. (Did the sheep follow them? I wonder. And what a ruckus they would have caused at the feet of their newborn Savior!)

But their journey didn’t stop at the stable. After worshiping Jesus, they went out and “made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.” 

The initial fear out there in the fields was not a paralyzing fear–not the kind that mutes tongues to silently deny our Savior. Their fear opened the door for faith. 

Sometimes I contemplate the shepherds, the humble set of messengers they were, and why God chose them to “make known the saying.” I mean, why not more wisemen or least the mayor of Bethlehem? I always thought that God was making a statement by having His birth announced by a herd of scruffy shepherds. Maybe He was. 

But today I’m wondering, “Why not the shepherds? Why do we assume the sidelined of society were less qualified?”

Sharing the news of Jesus isn’t the work of an elite few, those with charisma, power, or 5 million Facebook followers. It’s also for the shepherds–for me, for you. Our testimonies are neither more nor less valuable because, although we messengers have a role to play, the message has never been about the messenger, but about the Message Himself. 

(Luke 2:8-20)

Photo by Pawan Sharma on Unsplash

Among wolves

Children trickled home from school, their voices wafting up three stories to where I had curled up in my bed, attempting to steal a half hour nap. But more than to sleep, I curled up to drown out the dizzying voices in my head.

Advice too helpful.

Less invasive, but still overwhelming suggestions.

Pressure from friends to fill their emotional needs.

Dramatic stories that sucked me in (even kicking and screaming).

Stop! I buried my face in my pillow with the sting of fresh tears. 

“The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” (Jn. 10:3) We had just read that verse at Thursday night prayer meeting.

“Jesus, where is your voice?!” I gasped.

The voices dispersed. There was silence. “When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.” (Jn. 10:4)

Every day, someone invites me into their story. Sometimes it’s angry drama, sometimes it’s deep hurt or deep joy, sometimes it’s just a friend who cares. 

Jesus says, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (Jn. 10:10b). What is abundant life? I know what it is not, but that isn’t helpful.

Abundant life is the life that gives life life. It is Jesus Himself (Col. 3:4).

And abundant life is ours even when we are sent out as sheep among wolves (Matt. 10:16). Why? Because our Good Shepherd will not leave us or forsake us (Deut. 31:6). He is with us, God with us, Immanuel, even among the wolves.

“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me” (Jn. 10:14).

Following the voice of my Shepherd doesn’t make me deaf to the other voices. I may follow advice and reach out to the hurting, but I won’t be enslaved as long as I follow Him in and out of the fold.

Photo by Steven Lasry on Unsplash