They were unwanted, unappreciated, and unnoticed by society. Despised, disapproved, dirty. Yet God knew them by name. He noticed. He even chose them to be the first ones to hear the awesome news of the Savior’s birth.
Shepherds lovingly kept their flocks safe from thieves and wild animals and guarded them from straying and getting lost. Yet society regarded them with contempt. Their occupation was despised. They were denied civil rights of holding a judicial office or being a witness in court. Jewish leaders even commanded no one should buy by-products of their sheep or goats directly from them. (“Shepherd Status” by Randy Alcorn)
They were continually reminded of the darkness of their position in society. That must have felt so worthless at times. Yet the King of all kings regarded them from on high. He gave the message of HOPE first to them, not to the high-ranking officials, the rich, or the famous.
The darkness of long-expected silence must have tempted them to give up hope altogether. It had been approximately 4000 years since the first prophecy of the Greatest Rescue in the world. God promised a Savior through messages He gave to His prophets, gradually revealing more and more details. Now it had been 700 years since the prophecy of Micah: “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past.” (Micah 5:2) Now HOPE Himself came down just as He had promised.
The darkness of night robbed them of light, and yet God knew exactly where they were. He sent an angel and the sunshine of His glory. So glorious that it terrified them. The angel said:
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12)
Then a multitude of heaven joined them and sang:
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.” (Luke 2:14)
What an exciting message! The shepherds hurried to see their Savior with their own eyes. Where? Not in a castle or a palace, but in a stinky stable and a simple manger. Wrapped not in royal robes, but swaddled in tattered cloths. But by faith, the shepherds saw their Savior, their Rescuer, their Peace-Giver.
Do you feel unwanted? Jesus says, “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me.” (Song of Solomon 2:8-10) You are beautiful in His sight. He was born for you and wants you to hope in Him.
Do you feel unappreciated? Jesus recognizes your worth. He was born because He values you so highly. You are precious and honored in His sight, and He loves you. (Isaiah 43:4)
Do you feel unnoticed? Jesus notices you and knows you by name. He sees you, no matter where you are, even in the darkest of nights. He sends you His message of hope to light up the dark.