On the night Jesus was born God sent an angel to the shepherds in the fields. You can read about it for yourself in Luke 2:8-20. The angel told them that the Messiah, the Savior of the world had come to earth.
Why did God choose shepherds to hear this message? In Jesus’ time, most people thought shepherds were among the least important people. It was a dirty job for the youngest son. Shepherds were not allowed to appear as witnesses in court because their testimony was not seen as believable. But in God’s unique wisdom he chose the shepherds to be the first people to hear about the Messiah’s birth. It brings to my mind the Scripture verse that says “The last shall be first and the first shall be last.” See Matthew 20:16. God values the lives of all people, not just the privileged few who seem to be in charge of everything.
The mighty angel frightened the shepherds as it glowed with God’s glory. But the angel calmed their fears and delivered a message that boggled their minds. Read Luke 2:8-20 again. What was the message? Good news! Great joy! The Savior – the Messiah had been born! And where would they find the baby? In a manger in Bethlehem!
Shepherds may not know everything, but they would know where to look for baby Jesus. They would know where the cattle and donkeys were kept in the village of Bethlehem. But before they had time to think about that the sky filled up with legions of angels all praising God together saying “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” (Luke 2:14 NLT) And then the angels returned to heaven.
Can you imagine the shepherds’ astonishment? The village people wouldn’t bother to make conversation with them, but God sent his angels to give them this amazing message! In no time they were hurrying to Bethlehem to look for the baby Jesus, and they found him in a manger, just as the angel said.
Can you imagine what was going through the minds of the Shepherds as they peeked into the manger? The grubby stable wouldn’t likely bother them much, but to get close to a baby… and not just any baby… this baby was God Himself!
After the shepherds left the manger they told everyone they could about the wondrous things they had seen and heard. We are left to wonder whether the village people believed the shepherds or not as the Bible doesn’t say. Then the shepherds returned to their fields to care for their flocks.
For younger children The First Christmas, by Janice D. Green, illustrated by Violet Vandor.