At Christmas we remember the shepherds listening to the angels sing – how sweet. But think about who these shepherds were?
There were humble ordinary working guys. And shepherds and their sheep stink. And they spend most of their time out there in the fields – it was a dirty job that was considered fairly low class. If we put it in our context, we might say there were like the bin men. Yes – shepherds and bin men are needed but no really notices them.
So why would God send the announcement of the birth of Jesus to them? Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and yet, here the announcement of his birth comes to these working men out in their fields.
Shouldn’t the announcement have been made in a temple or a palace? It’s like the queen, telling the bin men at Buckingham Palace that Kate has given birth and they should be the ones to tell everyone else. What??
But I do think the shepherds were the right ones to hear this announcement. This fits with the pattern Jesus has throughout his life. The poor and the outcast are the ones who spent time with Jesus and who respond to the good news.
Later on, Jesus is questioned by the religious leaders as to why he is spending time with sinners instead of proper religious people – his answer? “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)
Jesus comes to those who don’t have their life together. Jesus comes to those who have pain and difficulty. Jesus comes to those who struggle and know that they struggle. This is the type of person who can hear the angels announcing the birth of the Messiah.
The angels got it right. Out in the fields with the shepherds was the perfect place to make the greatest birth announcement of all.