13 At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:
14 Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.
15 As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” 16 They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. 17 Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. 18 All who heard the sheepherders were impressed. (Luke 2:13-18 MSG)
A proclamation by a stunning Angel of light would have been extremely amazing to see in and of itself. If we had been in that field on that night would our reaction been any different from that of the Shepherds? Probably not. There aren’t too many people in our day and age that have witnessed such a sight as these humble shepherds saw in pasture that night. It’s almost a scene right out of some paranormal show, right up until the angel actually speaks you could almost envision an alien stepping out of the light with tendrils extended and the spooky sci-fi music is cued to end scene. What happens next, by all intents and purposes shouldn’t have occurred. The first people to hear of Messiah’s birth are lowly shepherds. It wasn’t the mayor of Bethlehem awakened to an angelic announcement, or a foreign dignitary, the message was directed at common shepherds doing the work that others would not be caught dead doing. For many, being a shepherd was beneath their stature in the community…yet apparently these shepherds were so important to the nativity story that God’s messengers make this startling revelation to them. Herod wasn’t alerted, and of course we’re thankful for that. The officials in Rome were not on the announcement list either. Shepherds, with staffs and slings, sitting around a fire at night get this mighty earth changing announcement. Think about that for a moment, then think about who you are. If you’re someone important then you have some grain of confidence already, but for the rest of us who, in a very real sense, are nobodies in this world…you and I matter to God and his purposes here on this earth. We don’t have to have Bill Gates’ money, or Kim Kardashian looks, or the mind and intellect of Stephen Hawking to be important to God, all we have to be is available to God.
The shepherds had nowhere important to go that night; their responsibility was to care for the sheep in that field. There wasn’t a party for them to attend, or a famous symposium to speak at; they were just there protecting weakest, simple minded animal known on earth. I still find it astounding that after all this time, after prophesies had foretold Messiah’s coming, this late breaking news reaches the common working man first. It’s comforting to think, that though status on this earth is important, wealth on this earth is revered, God doesn’t care about such earthly titles and status symbols. What God does care about is the heart. It’s a humbling thought. James 4:10 says “Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up.” Shepherds in a humble, lowly state embody this verse for me today. Not only did they get a single angelic messenger, they actually experienced the first and best Christmas choral arrangement never written on this earth…a master piece of music written in heaven. That additional fact boggles my mind. I’ve heard some amazing choirs, listened to some of the world’s best voices, but nothing would compare to the vocal concert the shepherds must have heard that night. For me it’s has to rank up there like an extended guitar solo at an encore performance of stairway to heaven by Led Zeppelin. The shepherds had front row seats to the best concert available at any time on earth. That blows me away! What these lowly sheep herders did next is not only extra ordinary but it reflects their angelic visit. They leave their sheep in search of this foretold child in a manger. Following their visit, still high on angelic fumes, they declare the world changing news to everyone they meet, and once told, everyone who hears is impressed at the news.
This amazing news is still relevant after all these years, and it doesn’t take the most eloquent speaker to declare it either! God wants you to declare His majesty this Christmas! God wants our humble hearts and lives to celebrate his birth once again. We may not have ever experienced that front row concert of angels, but we can’t but help to be propelled to the manger bed once again.
15 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.” Luke 2:15 (NIV)