They came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby.
God could have chosen anyone to announce the birth of Jesus, but He didn’t choose kings or rulers or the rich; He chose the lowest rung of Jewish society, the shepherds. Shepherds were despised in Jesus’s day. They worked with sheep. That means they smelled like sheep as well. Nobody wanted to be around the shepherds.
Yet it was to this group that God chose to announce the birth of Jesus. Luke 2:8-14 says, “In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.’”
Why did God choose to announce this news to the shepherds? Because the shepherds were humble. God chooses to bless and to save those who are humble. We see their humility in their response to the news: “When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, ‘Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger” (vv. 15-16). How did they respond to this news? They dropped everything they were doing and ran to Bethlehem to see this child.
What made the shepherds so eager to see this child after hearing the news? I think it’s one word the angel used: “There has been born for you a Savior.” A Savior. These shepherds understood their sin, their need for forgiveness, and that’s why they resonated with that word “Savior,” and they ran to see the one who had been born. The only way to appreciate the humility of the shepherds is to contrast their reaction to that of another group of people in Jerusalem that night–the religious leaders. When they heard the news that the Messiah was here, what did they do? Nothing. They stayed in Jerusalem. They wouldn’t even walk the couple of miles to Bethlehem to see the Savior. Why is that? They didn’t think they needed a savior. They were from the lineage of Abraham, they were circumcised, and they knew the Torah. They thought they were good enough. But the shepherds understood their need for God. That’s why God chose to deliver the good news to them first. Every time you see the shepherds in the nativity scene, ask yourself: “Have I admitted to God that my need for Him is total and not partial? That I have no hope of heaven apart from faith in Jesus Christ?” God blesses and saves those who are humble.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Stop and Smell the Manger” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2019.
Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.