Shepherds? You're Kidding Me! by Pastor Wally Coots
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were greatly afraid.
Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in
swaddling cloths, 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, goodwill toward men! Luke 2:8-14
Shepherds were social outcasts. They were poor, uneducated, uncultured, and uncouth. They were rough characters in a small town on the fringe of society, so much so, that their testimony was not even admissible in court. If you were with your family, walking through town, you would likely go to the other side of the street to avoid them.
Shepherds were religious outsiders. Because of the work of caring for the sheep made them ceremonially unclean, they were not allowed into the temple courts or to be an active part of synagogue worship. Religious leaders often considered them on the same level as prostitutes. When it came to religion, they were always on the outside looking in.
God invited a group of guys who had been labeled as outcasts and outsiders by everyone, and placed them at the top of the invite list for the most important birthday in history! Is that cool or what!
This is an ongoing theme we see continue throughout the Jesus’ life:
· Jesus hangs out with religious outsiders, social outcasts, and “sinners” so much that He is accused of being a glutton and a drunkard.
· Jesus heals a man with leprosy—considered contagious and religiously unclean— by touching him. Most people would have avoided lepers altogether.
· Jesus chooses an inner circle of followers that includes uneducated fishermen, a former tax collector who has sold out countrymen, a zealot who wants to kill the Romans, and even a former prostitute.
· Jesus consistently seeks out those who are considered social outcasts and religious outsiders and invites them to be at the center of His ministry.
Those who have been relegated to the outside are not only the focus of His rescue mission—they become its leaders. The shepherds had nothing to offer Jesus. They were not religiously trained or socially polished. Unlike the wise men who would arrive later, they did not have exquisite gifts. These guys lived under the stars with only the clothes on their backs, a staff to guide the sheep, and a rod for protection. They had nothing of value to bring to Jesus except for themselves. That’s exactly what He wanted and what He still wants today.
Who are “shepherds” in our community— social outcasts and religious outsiders? Do you believe that God can use them to impact our community and point people to Him? How can God use you to invite them to join His mission?