And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
Shepherds didn’t have the greatest reputation in the world. They were often thought of us thugs, ruffians and trouble-makers. But to the sheep they protected, they were everything. They had a very clear commitment with the flocks they watched over.
They lived with the sheep. They fought for the sheep. They bled for the sheep. Their lives boiled down to this one, singular priority… Protect the sheep at all costs.
So imagine how incredibly life-changing was that night was…
- Angels appeard in the middle of the night.
- Heavenly music broke out in the middle of nowhere.
- God changed the highest priority of a committed group of men.
The shepherds abanonded the one thing they would never abandon. These men routinely left their family and their friends to be the protectors of a flock of dumb animals. They understood that if their sheep died, their career was over and, more importantly, their livelihood was destroyed. No longer would they be able to buy food, clothes or shelter.
But, on this night, they discovered something much, much bigger than they’d ever known. They discovered a Messiah who was more worthy of their priority than any job would ever be. They discovered a King who deserved their blood, sweat and tears more than any other commitment.
And so they re-ordered their lives and abandoned their sheep and worshiped a baby. They hurried away from their old commitment and toward their new one. They spread throughout the community, with no regard whatsoever for their reputation. They faced people who hated them, who laughed at them, and boldly told their story of angels, worship and a baby Messiah.
Now the question is… What happened next? Did they continue through the city, telling their news to everyone they passed? Or did they drop this new commitment and run back out to their sheep, ready to live by their old rules?
We don’t know how the shepherds lived out the rest of their lives, but we do know this…
Here in a few days, we celebrate the birth of the very same Messiah the shepherds discovered. And you’ll have a choice to make… Does Jesus change your highest priorities? Or do you enjoy a great day and then run back to your other, “important” stuff, ready to live by your old rules?
Whatever your highest priority is – whether it’s your job, your sports (or your kids sports), your money, your house or your car – Christmas is a call to re-orient your life around something better. Christmas is an invitation from God to you to abandon what you’ve been doing so you can do something better.