Why did shepherds get invited to His birth?
And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, "Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!" When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us." Luke 2:8-15
Why Did Shepherds Get Invited?
Have you ever wondered why shepherds, - out in a field on night watch, minding their own business, - were the first to receive the good news that the Savior of all people, Christ the Lord had been born?
Why them? Why did God tell them, why did He invite them to see the Birth of all Births? The Miracle of all Miracles,- the Incarnation of God!
What do you think?
I have some personal thoughts, from meditating on this passage and study, that I wanted to share with you on why they were invited. But before sharing them, I can tell you a personal reaction, - wouldn’t it have been awesome to have been there with them that night!? Wouldn’t you have loved to have been there? Can you imagine it! Put yourself there! That is part of how we start to prayerfully enter into why they were invited.
So why shepherds?
God has an affinity for shepherds.
Think about it. Abraham, Issac and Jacob were shepherds. So was David (he may have shepherded in the same fields where these guys were when the angel appeared to them). God was referred to by his people, as the Shepherd of Israel. The Psalmist personally exclaimed, “the Lord is my shepherd.” St Peter referred to Jesus as the Chief Shepherd. Jesus referred to himself as the good shepherd who was willing to lay down his life for the sheep (that includes you and me). See John 10. He is the Shepherd King of all humanity, and by the way, he happens to have a special love and longing for straying, misbehaving, knuckleheaded, lost sheep (that includes you, me and our family and friends and non friends)! See Luke 15.
God has the heart of a shepherd. God was coming in person to gather the lost sheep of Israel, and all of humanity to himself. He told the news to fellow shepherds first! There is probably something there that he wants us to pay attention to.
They were the low life's who were not part of the ‘in crowd.’
On the other hand, some Jewish wisdom during the time of Jesus’ birth advised father’s against shepherding as an occupation for their sons. It was not considered a good livelihood. Additionally many Jews frowned upon shepherds. They were looked down upon, not trusted, even scorned. Apparently they were often peripheral to Jewish life and culture. Outcasts. Low life’s.
What was it that Mary exclaimed about God exalting the lowly?
They were certainly not who you would invite to a party. Certainly not to T-H-E BIRTHDAY PARTY!
Shepherds were the types of people you don’t invite to parties. They’re people who were not part of the ‘in crowd’ of synagogues or social groups, and get this,- they were the only ones God invited to the birth of Jesus the Savior and Lord! Gentiles, the wise men, would come later! If it were wise women they probably would have been there in advance and helped to clean up the stable, prepare meals and, help with the delivery!
St. Justin Martyr, a Palestinian, was personally familiar with Bethlehem. He lived a little over a 100 years after Christ and writes that the stable Jesus was born in was a cave in the hillside. That is where the Shepherds would have headed in response to the message of the angel. They were humble folks and I imagine they didn’t even notice the outrageous conditions that the Christ was born into. Most likely they had to bow down to enter the cave,- no problem for lowly shepherds. And they knew who this baby was!
God has come among us.
The Creator of everything became the creature,- fully God, fully man,- so we could see what God is like, up close and personal. And he humbled himself so that EVERYONE could identify with him, even the low life’s of the world. The outcasts, the broken hearted, sinners and totally broken people. God was and, is at eye level for anyone willing to bow down and “see this thing that the Lord has made known to us.”
If you encounter the stirring of grace to know who it is that is born in the manger, in this food trough for animals(the Bread of Life), then you will join the angels and shepherds in adoration.
God had become one of us, in order to rescue humanity and creation!
When the angel told the shepherds this momentous, historic, outrageous, fantastic news that God had personally come as Messiah to rescue humanity, the angel hosts could not contain themselves and burst into our world in adoration. Why?
Because of His great mercy! He had become one of us, in order to die for our sins, so that we might have peace with God! The angels worshipped, singing, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!" Our peace with God is the result of what He has done for us in Jesus Christ. Coming down from heaven, becoming a man to die for our sins, to be raised as the glorious Lord who would pour out His Spirit to empower us to live new lives as his children, at peace with him. It is His gift to you and me to receive, if we respond and acknowledge that Jesus as the Lord and Savior of my life and of all.
It was not hard for the Shepherds. They were the lowly who God exalted. They were use to stooping down to enter stables. They simply responded to the message the angel had told them. You can too! He loves us so much that he became one of us in order to forgive our sins and give us the gift of his peace and of new life.
A couple of closing questions.
Would I (you) invite these guys to the party? Do I share the heart of God the Father for the lost and brokenhearted? For those who are not part of my 'in crowd?'
On the other hand, if I (you) feel like I can identify with the shepherds, not a part of the in-crowd of church or society, do I know that Christmas is all about shepherd types! That you are personally invited to join this celebration and come to know the Savior who is Jesus Christ the Lord? You are invited! It is God's wonderful gift to you right now in this moment! You may feel like you are out in a field by yourself, but there is a party just about to get underway and you are invited!
If you have never known the love that God has for you personally below is a simple prayer you can pray, asking Jesus to be your Lord, to be the leader and Savior of your life. Even if you were baptized as a Catholic-Christian, you may have never known that you can enter into personal relationship with God through what Jesus has done for you and for all of us. You can pray for release of the power of the Spirit given to you in Baptism right now, at this point in your life.
Please forgive me for all the things I have done wrong. I turn to you and turn away from sin (here you can pause to think of anything particular you might want to ask forgiveness for).
Jesus, please be the center of my life. I welcome you personally as Lord and Savior of my life.
I ask you Holy Spirit to fill me and empower me to live as a son/daughter of God. I want to have your grace to truly live a new life.
Thank you, Lord! Amen!
If you do pray this prayer for the first time, entering into personal relationship with the Lord Jesus, please contact us so we can support you and help you connect with the Church!
Have a very blessed Christmas!
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