Christmas: Why It Still Matters – Messengers in Burlap
Key Bible Verse: The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told! – Luke 2:20, The Message)
Dig Deeper: Luke 2:15-20
No Christmas program is complete without its little band of gunnysack shepherds. Frightened by the angel’s sudden appearance, they marvel at the Good News from the angel and rush to Bethlehem.
As they return to their flocks, they praise God and tell all who will listen about the birth of the chosen Child. They then leave the stage, and we hardly give them another thought.
But why did the announcement come to them at all? Why should they receive history’s greatest birth announcement?
In Christ’s day, shepherds stood on the bottom rung of the social ladder. They shared the same unenviable status as tax collectors and dung sweepers.
What an affront to the religious leaders who were so conspicuously absent from the divine mailing list. Even from birth, Christ moved among the lowly. It was the sinners, not the self-righteous, he came to save (Mark 2:17).
As we gaze on nativity scenes and smile at those gunnysack shepherds, let’s not lose sight of the striking irony. A handful of shepherds, marginalized by the social and religious elite, were chosen to break the silence of centuries, heralding Messiah’s birth.
—Randy Alcorn in Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus
My Response: What does today’s reading tell me about status and title? What does it say about those God came to save?
Thought to Apply: How surprising and significant that Father God handpicked lowly, unpretentious shepherds to first hear the joyous news: “It’s a boy, and he’s Messiah!”—Randy Alcorn (writer)
Adapted from Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus (Crossway, 2008).
Prayer for the Week: Father, don’t let me get so caught up in the frenzy of the holidays that I forget what it’s all about; amid it all, may I take time for peaceful reflection and joyful celebration of my Savior’s birth.