The Divine Birth Announcement
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. . . . And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people."
—Luke 2:8, 10
Each mother and father remember when they announced that they were expecting with a child. And when the baby was born I am sure you remember the first people you called to excitingly proclaim the little ones arrival. You shared with them the weight, length, color of their eyes and hair ( that is if they had hair). You were so proud to tell them the time of birth and every other detail you could think about sharing. And what made this announcement more enjoyable was you were sharing with those you loved and were the closest to you! Those you know would enjoy the news and be just as interested in the happening as you were.
When God sent the angel to announce the birth of His Son, whom did He tell first? Don’t you find it interesting to who it was that the first announcement of Christ’s birth was to shepherds.? I would have thought it would have been announced to others before these lowly shepherds. He could have sent Gabriel starting with Caesar Augustus. He could have sent the angel to appear in Caesar’s court and announce, “the only true Savior of the world has arrived, it is not you, you are not God, I AM!”
Gabriel could have taken this first announcement to the religious leaders of that day. Those who had become so vile in religion and so far away from a relationship with God. Can you imagine hearing Gabriel say “Wake up! The Messiah has been born! The One you talk about, the One you say you look for—He is here! Prepare to meet your God!”
To the human mind it would have made sense to make the announcement first to the influential, nobility, government officials, those who had means to get the word out, those who managed people not sheep.
But the Lord was revealing both His mind and heart in His birth announcement. Instead, He first announced the birth of Jesus to shepherds. Through the centuries many of songs, writings and paintings have portrayed these shepherds of the Christmas story in ways that are not biblically and historically accurate. We must understand in that time shepherds lived lowly lives. They were at the low end of social status.
Shepherds were so disrespected and looked down upon that their testimonies were not even allowed in a court of law. Shepherds did the work that no one else wanted to do. They worked hard, they were with the sheep 24 hours a day and that work was smelling and dirty. They were perceived as unclean because they could not observe the ceremonial hand washings. They were the outcasts, the nobodies, common labors who everybody needed but no-one wanted. The only people lower in social acceptance and status were those suffering from leprosy.
So now we are beginning to see how astounding it really is that the first announcement of the Messiah’s birth was in such a fashion. Our loving Lord decides to announce His birth and share the GOOD NEWS with SHEPHERDS FIRST! In fields, as they were tending sheep, at work, at night, to the outcast, to the common, to the ordinary, to the less-regarded.
This biblical fact should give hope to all because in the great reality of truth every human is simply a shepherd. We are made from the dust, born under curse, poor in spirit, outcasts, common, suffering from a leprosy called sin. Some shepherds wear $1000 suits, some live in million dollar homes but the great reality is they are poor, lowly, shepherds as are all humans on this earth. That is all. And the announcement of Jesus Christ’s birth is to every shepherd, in every place, in every moment of time “bringing good tidings of great joy….for unto each shepherd is born a Savior Christ the Lord.”
This should give each of us “ordinary people” hope. For those who have received this hope through Christ may this season one of great rejoicing and a time of rededicating ourselves to take that hope to the world. For the one who has yet to receive hope through Christ alone may this be the moment for you to bow your head and heart before the Lord in repentance of sin and acceptance of the ONE WHO WAS BORN THAT FIRST CHRISTMAS!
Terry has been the Senior Pastor of Liberty for 30 years. He and his wife, Karen, have 4 children, 11 grandchildren, and 1 spoiled dog named Cooper.