Why the Shepherds? Part 1

This article was originally published in the Lutheran Ambassador in December 2008.  It seemed appropriate for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

As a naturally curious person I can spend hours just thinking and wondering about things.  Recently I was reading the Christmas story in the book of Luke, and one aspect about it had me puzzled.  Why did God send his angels to the fields outside of Bethlehem to announce the news of Christ’s birth?  Why did He choose a few shepherds to be the first hearers?  Wouldn’t it have made more sense for the angels to appear in the Temple in Jerusalem?  Shouldn’t the priests who prayed daily for the coming of the Messiah be first to learn that He had arrived?

Or why didn’t God tell the angels to go to the Magi in the east?  There men were wise and learned, they had figured out on their own that a great king was about to be born.  Didn’t they deserve this heavenly confirmation of their theory?  Even the courts of King Herod would be a plausible choice.  Herod was not a good man, but he was powerful.  The sudden appearance of  “a great company of the heavenly host”  might well have persuaded him to fall in with God’s plan and spread the news of this miraculous birth far and wide.

I thought and thought.  I read some commentaries and the notes in my big study Bible.  Finally I prayed (which I should have done first and saved myself some time).  Immediately this verse from 1 Corinthians popped into my mind:

“God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise;  God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  He chose the lowly things of the world and the despised things –the things that are not–to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him.”

The Christmas story is not about what we can do for God.  It’s about God’s gift of grace to us.  God purposefully chose to come to the “nobodies”  living in the “no-places”  so that there could be no doubt–the power, the action and the results are all His.

For more about being “nobody” go to these posts:

I’m A Nobody

I’m Nobody, too

To be continued ……

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