Unlikely witnesses

Published 11:44 am Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Two thousand years ago in a little town called Bethlehem, a group of shepherds became the unlikely ones chosen to witness the greatest story ever told.

In ancient times the occupation of a shepherd was not the most respected of professions. Yes, their role was important, particularly when one considers they guarded and protected the lambs that Jewish families needed to purchase to utilize for sacrifices in the temple. From this perspective, a shepherd could have been considered a critical or essential worker. Without their care and tending of the flocks, there might be a shortage of lambs, causing a major supply and demand problem. 

Shepherds were one of those groups required but not respected, yet they did the hard work others may have preferred not to think about. Working in the sheep fields was smelly work and at times, was dangerous in terms of fighting off predators that might try to attack the sheep. David killed a bear and lion while protecting his father’s sheep. The work of a shepherd included bad weather and round the clock shifts that were demanding and thankless.

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Why is it then that God selected this bunch of people to announce the birth of the Messiah? Imagine, you are watching the sheep on a quiet night near Bethlehem and all of a sudden an angel appears! Of course, these rugged men were afraid! We know they were because the angel told them to not be afraid! Then, they heard the good tidings that still resound today…“for unto you is born this day in the City of David, a Savior which is Christ the Lord.” 

Then, the story gets even better, as a host of angels filled the sky praising God! Michelle and I enjoy watching the sky for comets, planets and shooting stars but seeing a spectacle of this level would have been beyond comprehension!

The shepherds then went to Bethlehem so they could see the New Born Messiah. Likely the shepherds, after Mary and Joseph, were the first to see Baby Jesus. We have heard the story many times; why tell it again? Well, for two reasons. 

First, remember this Christmas season that God chose to announce the birth of His Son to humble people in insignificant places. I believe that is because this echoes the truth that God loves everyone. You are not forgotten by God. He cares about you and you matter to God. Second, once you know the love of God, it is a gift that beckons you to share! The shepherds went on their way glorifying and praising God and we should do the same. Tell others about Jesus. Share with them His love, mercy and compassion. Praise Him for all the blessings in your life, large and small. Perhaps you say, I am just not good at talking to people or, I don’t know what to say. Use this story and this season to start. It gets easier after the first time. 

Who knows? Sharing the story of the shepherds and their unlikely experience may cause you to have some unlikely experiences of your own!