The Christmas story is worth telling and retelling every year because it reminds us of what is really important, and that’s celebrating the birth of Jesus the Christ who is God and the Savior of the world. The night Jesus was born the entire world was naively carrying on as usual. The Shepherds were still out tending their flocks late that night. There was nothing special going on and nothing out of the ordinary to see.
Back when Jesus was born, shepherds were common. It wasn’t a noble job, but a needed one. It’s kind of like the guys who suck the poo out of the Biffy’s. There was nothing really special or noteworthy about shepherds yet God chose to reveal the birth of the Savior to a group of shepherds in the middle of that first night. Their lives left the mundane and experienced the meaningful.
The angel told them that the Savior had been born in the town of Bethlehem. First century Bethlehem wasn’t some thriving metropolis like Jerusalem was, it was more like a St. Boni size town without a Quick Trip and Holiday. As soon as the angels left the shepherds looked at each other with a bewildered look on their faces then said:
“Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.” Luke 2:15-16
The Christ child had been born and the shepherds saw him with their own two eyes. Their average night took on new meaning, and a very new focus. What’s interesting is that the shepherds became spokesmen for Jesus. What is even more miraculous is that people believed them! Shepherds were not allowed to give testimony in court yet when they shared the good news of the coming of the messiah Jesus people believed them.
Why would God reveal the birth of His one and only son to a flock of shepherds? There are three reasons why. First, God appeared to the shepherds first revealing you are not too broken to be blessed. He revealed the good news to average, rough around the edges people first.
If the shepherds were blessed by God and they rejoiced even though they were broken people what would stop God from blessing you? Even though their human reputation was far from perfect God came near to them. In the same way God comes near to you. The message of “do not be afraid” is for you and me. God came close enough to be touched and held by broken people like the shepherds and still comes close to broken people like us.
Second, you are not too far from God to run to Jesus. After the shepherds heard the good news they ran to Jesus. They didn’t wait for a better time, they didn’t wait for the dawn of a new day, they didn’t say “aw that’s in town, we’re social outcasts in the sticks, that’s too far away and we can’t leave the sheep." They just ran to Jesus. In the same way, we need to run to Jesus.
The third reason why God revealed his son to the shepherds was to let us know that you don’t have to be perfect to praise God and point people to Jesus. The Gospel story empowers outcasts to be outspoken. There are a lot of people who live right next door to you and I that have no idea what the true meaning of Christmas is. You need to tell them about Jesus. You need to tell the gospel story in your life with your words and actions.
Or perhaps you don’t make much of the religious side of Christmas because you know you are far from perfect. It doesn’t matter, what matters is that you tell the world about Jesus and let them know that you are a work in progress. Don’t let the message of Christmas be crowded out by jingle bells and holiday treats. Today I encourage you to refocus on the true meaning of Christmas; that the Savior has come and his name is Jesus.