“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…” Luke 2:8-9a
It amazes me that the first people God chose to reveal the birth of His Son to were shepherds. Time after time, I have read Luke 2 verses eight and nine and have never thought much of it. It wasn’t until about a week or so ago that these verses became more beautiful to me than ever before.
In the last week or so I’ve learned some new things about shepherds. One of the things that fascinated me is that even though the shepherds provided the lambs for worship and sacrifice in the temple, they weren’t allowed inside of the temple. This was because they were seen as dirty and clean, the lowest of the low; they were societal outcasts due to how messy and dirty their job was. Yet, these were the people, the ones God chose to appear to first and even he chose them to spread the news of His Son’s birth. People were awaiting this moment for centuries; the Messiah (the Savior), the liberator of Israel. But when the time came for the Messiah to enter the earth, He didn’t choose the famous, the renowned, the rich, or even the religious elite, but instead He chose the rejected, the overlooked, the unknown, the outcast.
I heard a pastor say (paraphrased), “God chose to allow Jesus to be born in a stable because it had no doors. So those who wanted to come in to see Him would have nothing to stop them from encountering Him.” He continued to say, “and today it is the same way; for all who desire to come to Christ and encounter Him, have no doors or barriers that will keep them out. All anyone has to do is come in; He is open and everyone is welcome.”
Did you know that you are a part of that everyone? That you matter to Christ and He wants you to come in, get close and experience Him and get to know Him? That His door is open to you and anyone that desires to come inside? That there are no qualification list that gets you a ticket in to meet Him? It’s not about your job status, educational background, your reputation in the community, or what your past or current life looks like. It’s not about popularity fame or fortune. He just wants you and He wants you to believe in Him.
God sent His Son to be born into a people who are awaiting their liberation; they were awaiting freedom from the oppression and control of Roman Rulership in the natural world. But on this night, God chose to send the news of this very special birth to a group of people, shepherds. They were oppressed and ostracized because of their social status and occupation, yet He saw it fit to send this news to those who are deemed “unfit and unworthy” according to people’s standards and rules. He chose them to go and personally worship God in the flesh; He deemed them as fit and worthy to be in His presence, and to even go out and tell people about this incredible childbirth. He called them in when everyone else cast them out.
“When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 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.” Luke 2:15-18 NIV
Thank God that the way He sees us, loves us, relates to us, and deems us fit, is way different people’s standards and even our own. This is how God sees you no matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done or your past failures or even peoples opinions of you or your opinion of yourself. God still says, “I choose you!” All those who will believe in Christ Jesus for who He truly is, the risen Son of God and Savior of all mankind, are able to be a part of God’s chosen people. It’s not according to your bank account, vocabulary level, degrees, ministry titles, business affiliation, beauty, or understanding. It’s about your heart, your belief in Him, and your willingness to trust and follow after Him; it’s your faith in Him and who He is.
This part of the Christmas story, has become one of my favorite places to dwell. The beautiful thing about God, which I am so thankful for, is that He sees us right where we are and He qualifies us as fit or unfit, good or bad, worthy or unworthy, dirty or clean, according to His own scales and not peoples. This is good and perfect to me! He could have chosen anyone to come and witness the birth of Jesus, but He chose to welcome in the rejected and the cast out. He chose a lowly and off the radar entry into the world and chose a lowly and off the radar people to receive Him, know Him, worship Him, and to share Him.
You are chosen and seen and wanted by God! He knows you, loves you, He has a purpose for your life and He’s calling you near. You matter to Him when it seems like no one is there. He cares about you, He loves you and He has such a special plan for you. His heart is open to you, each and every day of the year. He is calling you on this very day to run into Him and partake of His love and light. Will you come into Him? Will you draw near as the shepherds did to get a close look; running in with no barriers to separate you? Draw near and he will draw near to you. He loves you and He desires a deep and meaningful relationship with you. He is incredible and has so much to share with you.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
“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. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10-12
“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” Luke 2:20
Jesus came for you and me. He came for people who would one day believe and become a part of His shepherd fold; for people in need of direction, understanding and love. Will you rejoice as the shepherd’s did when they heard this good news? Will you come in and find rest for your soul? Will you believe?
God bless you and Merry Christmas!