“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night" (Luke 2:8).
Shepherds generally came from the base elements of society. In that day they were so little trusted that a shepherd’s testimony would not be accepted in a courtroom. Most shepherds were considered on a par with Gypsies, vagrants, and con men. Add to that the fact that shepherds were on the lowest rung of the economic ladder and had little or no formal education.
And that makes the story all the more remarkable. First they heard and saw the spectacular angelic revelation. Then when they went to Bethlehem they discovered the Savior of the world in a feeding-trough in a rough, outdoor barn, perhaps a cave carved out of the rocky hillside. The birth and the revelation didn’t seem to go together. Yet there it was, all from the hand of God.
On that night in Bethlehem, outside of Joseph and Mary, the only people in the world who knew Christ had been born were the shepherds. After the “400 silent years,” when God did not speak through prophets, he now speaks through angels to lowly shepherds on a remote hillside outside a tiny Judean village.
It wasn’t a likely way to win the world. Certainly not the way we would have done it. If we had planned it, Jesus would have been born in Jerusalem, to a wealthy family, and attended by the high and mighty. That way no one would doubt that the Son of God had come to earth.
But God’s ways and ours are not the same. He chose to reveal the news to the shepherds first of all. After their initial (and understandable) fear, they responded in faith. They believed the angel, they immediately went to Bethlehem, and they found the baby Jesus. Everything was just as the angel said it would be.
And what did they do then? They told everyone they met what they had seen and heard.
I wonder if we would have been as obedient? Would we have believed? Would we have gone to Bethlehem in the middle of the night? Would we have been as quick to tell the story?
What the shepherds did, we all can do. You need no authority, no permission, and no special training to witness for Christ. Simply tell what you know to be true. Talk about Jesus. Tell who he is and what he has done for you. Share your story and then invite others to come to Christ just as you did.
Good news is for sharing. That’s what the shepherds did. That’s what all of us are called to do.
Grant us the same faith the shepherds had so that we might go and tell everyone about Jesus. Amen.