The glorious announcement for an unlikely audience
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And 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 suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” Luke 2:8–15
Have you ever wondered what people thought of shepherds in Jesus’ day?
People thought shepherds were odd. They lived by themselves, outside of town, sleeping in the open, and surrounded by animals all the time. Their reputation was less than stellar. Shepherds were stereotyped as crooks and thieves, and they couldn’t even testify in court. It didn’t help that they couldn’t leave their flock without risking their livelihood, which means they couldn’t make it to the temple for sacrifices and feasts and maintain the same religious devotion as the rest of God’s people. In short, the shepherds were not highly regarded in their society.
When an army of angels lit up the sky to announce God’s birth into history, no one would have ever expected them to break the news to a bunch of shepherds. Upon hearing the big announcement, however, the shepherds outside of Bethlehem hurry off to find the baby boy. Besides Mary and Joseph, these anonymous outcasts are the first people in the world to enjoy an audience with Jesus Christ.
It’s curious how God arrives in a humble way to a humble family and announces the event to the humble shepherds. God works with them for his glory, by his grace. Years later, Jesus even described Himself as the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep (John 10:11). God redeems an unpopular profession, showing that He is humble and willing to look after us like sheep.
If you were God, would you have entered history in a humble way like Jesus did? If not, how would you have entered history?