15 When the angels returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go right now to Bethlehem and see what’s happened. Let’s confirm what the Lord has revealed to us.” 16 They went quickly and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they reported what they had been told about this child. 18 Everyone who heard it was amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 Mary committed these things to memory and considered them carefully. 20 The shepherds returned home, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. Everything happened just as they had been told.
No one would have guessed that the first to tell the good news of the Messiah being born would be shepherds. Their work gave them no roots or family ties. There were always on the outskirts of society due to being considered unclean. You could imagine the smell they had from working in the fields with the sheep all day long. Bugs followed them around wherever they went. They had no wealth. Their educational opportunities were basic at best. Yet God sent God’s messengers to tell them of the birth of their Savior, and they went without question: “Let’s go right now…”
It didn’t matter the hour of the night. It didn’t matter how it would affect their work. It didn’t matter if they knew exactly what they were looking for. They went and met God, they were forever changed, and they told whoever would bother to listen to them – simple, lowly, smelly shepherds.
The nativity story is all backwards. A king in a barn? God being born to a virgin? Shepherds receiving the first honor to meet the Son of God? Yet that’s how God has always worked. Even later in His ministry, Jesus was constantly putting expectations on their head. We should not just expect that in the nativity story, but in God’s actions in our lives too.
by Rachel Callender
For Pondering & Prayer
Where has God turned things on their head for you? Where what you thought could never happen was exactly what happened? How can we see hope in that for this upcoming year?
Prayer: Holy Lord, You love all Your children. The ones that have been cast aside by humanity, You raise up with Your love. May we follow Your lead. Amen.