Why bother? I mean really – no one liked shepherds. They’re dirty, rough, people – largely rejected by society and rather unrefined. Yet, God decides to send a personal birth announcement to these men rather than the “movers and shakers” in Jerusalem (well, apart from the signs surrounding the temple priest Zacharias, Elizabeth and the birth of their son John). These are the ones we would expect to be overlooked in the “strategic planning.” So, aside from the obvious “God cares about everyone” (something we dare not overlook), can we learn anything from the fact that God inspires Luke to include these societally irrelevant figures? Despite the fact that these were simple, uneducated men, despite the fact that they lacked refinement, these men are an example of how we ought to respond to the Word/proclamation of God. These were hard-working men. They worked long hours. They took shifts on the late night watch. But rather than rolling over and saying “A baby? That’s nice. Catch me in the morning” these men ACT on what they heard. Lets look at what they did in response to their visitation.
- They check it out – immediately (Luke 2:15,16). They don’t wait until a more convenient time or until they’ve gotten a little more sleep. They take immediate action to investigate what they were told. When we hear God speaking to us (in prayer, in Scripture, from the pulpit) do we investigate in a timely matter or do continue as if nothing happened?
- They believed what the angels said AND what they saw (Luke 2:17). When they acted on the announcement that they received, they came face to face with a young couple and a baby – nothing terribly special in and of itself. Rather than simply shrugging the sight off as a “so what” they accepted this simple sight for what the angels proclaimed it to be – the arrival of God’s promise. When we see God’s word confirmed in seemingly “ordinary” demonstrations – do we choose to believe or do we insist on the spectacular?
- They shared what they found (Luke 2:17-20). After their personal investigation and decision to believe, they don’t keep it to themselves! They immediately go out, praising God and sharing what they had found with everyone. Believing that what they had seen was the fulfillment of God’s promise, these men follow through on their responsibility to share their encounter with the world around them – and they don’t use the fact that they are uneducated and shunned as an excuse to stay quiet. When we have an encounter with God, with His Word, do we follow through on our obligation to share our findings with those we come across?
These are more than simple men with nothing to lose. They are men who understand that everyone has a responsibility to actively respond to God’s Word and share their findings. Do we?
Pastor Jim Kushner