Luke, the author of the third gospel in the Bible and one of the twelve disciples, is well known for recording the birth of Jesus, which can be found in Luke 2:1-20. Originally a physician, Luke researched and gathered Jesus’ past history and reported it in his book, which was later selected to be part of our Bibles today. It is said that Luke died at age 84, supposedly of being killed for his religious beliefs. Over 2,000 years later we can read his works of Jesus’ birth.
In the passage above, an angel is speaking to a group of shepherds in a field in Bethlehem, around 4 A. D. Here are those two verses in context:
1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart
20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.” Luke 2:1-20, King James Version
Did you happened to notice that between those twenty verses, fourteen of them involved the shepherds? Do you find it strange that the angels appeared in a field to tell a group of lowly sheep keepers of the King of the Universe’s birth? If this baby is so important, why didn’t the angels appear before the governors and priests of the town, or the richest of residents so they could see this baby? Why did God choose poor shepherds?
Shepherds of that day were considered the lower class of the city. They spent all their time out in fields, no matter what the weather or time of day. (Fun fact: each night before a shepherd would doze off each night in the fields, he would count his sheep to make sure they were all together, which is possibly where we get the idea that counting sheep will help us go to sleep!)
Shepherds certainly weren’t the most accepted group in Bethlehem, but to God, the shepherds were the prefect people to tell about Jesus’ birth. It shows us that clearly God loved the shepherds just as much as the priests, governors, and scribes. God didn’t choose from the top of the wealth list, but from the list of those who were less fortunate, those who were looked down upon, and those who knew how to spread the word! Verse 18 says that the shepherds went about to declare Christ’s birth, and that their listeners were curious of the news. I doubt that a governor would go about the streets at night telling news of this baby born in a stable.
It was God’s plan for the angels to appear to the shepherds. Their wealth, social status, and class didn’t matter. God doesn’t look at those things when He chooses people for important tasks or jobs. Instead, He looks at the heart. So, we must be well prepared and ready for any task that we are given, whether it be traveling to see a newborn king (which is sort of unlikely nowadays), telling a friend about the birth of Christ, or even just simply smiling at a grumpy person you happen to cross paths with. Whether you’re a shepherd or a governor, you never know what God will ask you to do, so be ready and willing for anything, because I know that He has something very special in store for you!
Do you have any other thoughts of why God choose the shepherds to see Jesus?
Did you know that counting sheep may have come from the Bible?
Are you ready and willing for anything God has in store for you?