Advent Devotional | December 23, 2020
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:8-14
“Wrapt in His swaddling—bands, And in His manger laid, The hope and glory of all lands Is come to the world’s aid.” – John Keble, Poet
The world’s long-awaited Messiah was announced to who? If you were to ask an Israelite living during the time of Jesus’ birth what the least desirable job was, you would likely hear shepherd. Tending flocks held a prominent role among Israel’s people at one time, but that changed when the people of Israel went from nomadic wanderers to property-owning farmers. The shepherding occupation was one of the lowest professions you could work in. The proclamation of the birth of the Messiah was expected. What was unexpected was who it was presented to. In telling the shepherds, God is sending a clear message that Jesus is for everyone.
If you dig deeper into the life of Jesus, it makes complete sense that the shepherds would be told. Consider for a moment how other groups of people in Jesus’ day received the news. King Herod wanted to kill Jesus because He represented a threat to his government. Religious leaders tried to crucify him because Jesus rightly called them out for their lack of ministry integrity. And do you know who received Jesus with the most joy? Those who recognized their great need. Living in a field with animals doing undesirable work, these shepherds were a perfect fit. Jesus came to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). He continually pursued those in the margins, and few other groups of people were as marginalized as shepherds!
Jesus once said that “whoever has been forgiven little loves little” (Luke 7:47). He points out that people who see their greatest needs met are people who will respond with the most love and joy. You and I are in the best position to receive Christ when we understand our need for Him. People with parched throats treasure a cold glass of water in a much different way than those who have no thirst. This Christmas, humble yourself. When you remind yourself of your low position because of sin and brokenness, you become a perfect candidate to receive the good news with overwhelming joy.
Pastor Dave Mergens