"Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, 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, goodwill toward men!” Luke 2:8-14
What was it about these shepherds? I was reading the account of the birth of Jesus in the book of Luke just now, and as I came to this part of the story, I wondered why shepherds? What was it about these shepherds that the angels appeared to them? It's interesting to me to think that of all the groups of people that the angels could have appeared to, that they chose some of the lowliest of the community. The shepherds, while they were necessary to the way of life for the people, were not some of the most favored people. So I was thinking about these shepherds, and considering that they were living near Bethlehem, the city of David, I figure that God was showing his favor to the people of David.
"And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither. 12And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the LORD said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he." 1 Samuel 16:11-12
David was a humble shepherd who became king. Joseph, the husband of Mary was a direct descendant of David, and became the earthly father to Jesus, the ultimate shepherd.
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:" John 10:27
The shepherds were given a real honor, to hear directly from the angel of the Lord, and then to witness the multitude of angels praising God. What an amazing thing that must have been to witness! Just think about what it might have been like to be a shepherd, to be going about your everyday business. You're tending your sheep, staying awake through the night (because after all, you are the shepherd assigned the night shift) and keeping an eye out for predators and making sure the sheep stay close. Perhaps your having a conversation with your fellow shepherds over a fire in the night. And then all the sudden, there are angels all around!
So these shepherds watched and listened, and I imagine hearing those angels praise God was one of the most beautiful things these shepherds had ever seen and heard. But those practical shepherds, once the angels had gone, had to know just what all the fuss was about and went to find this baby born in a manger. They went and saw this precious baby, and then we come to the part that shows me just why the shepherds were chosen to receive the angels.
"Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them." Luke 2:20
The returned to their posts, glorifying and praising God. What a day that had to be! They were praising God with everything they had. I imagine that was the best day at work ever for them, and it's a wonderful reminder to us, this holiday season, of how our days are supposed to be. We celebrate Christmas during the month of December every year, but we really should be celebrating it every day of our lives- and all day. Praise and glory for God should be on our lips and minds at all times. As we go about our everyday business, we should be giving glory to God, and praising Him with our mouths and our hearts. That day was a day that those shepherds probably never forgot- nor did it ever stray far from their minds. And yet, once Christmas passes us by, we give a sigh of relief that the holiday is over, and we banish it from our thoughts until the following fall when the decorations start showing up and the shopping countdowns begin.
Christmas should be a part of our thought life each and every day of the year. Every day we should give praise and glory to God for the gift of His Son, who saved us all from eternal damnation and torment through His sacrifice. Each and every day. Maybe this year we can remember that as we take down the Christmas trees and put away the decorations and the nativity sets. Jesus is every day, and every day we should remember to praise and thank Him.