So, really? God shows up in the world and the first people to know about it are shepherds? Just more evidence that this fantastical story is true. Shepherds make for lousy press secretaries and marketing agents.
Shepherds had degraded in status since the glorious days of David. People considered them as thieves and somewhat outcasts. But not unlike King David, God doesn’t look at the outside, God looks at the heart and he saw something in those shepherds worth sharing good news with.
They were the first recipients of News that would change history and affect millions and billions of lives.
A few kids in a dusty place of no account to anyone. They saw the angel, went to baby Jesus with wonder and puzzlement in their eyes and then, we presume, went back to shepherding.
Shepherds who saw the baby and proclaimed praise and then went back to check on their sheep, which is exactly what God did when he came from heaven to earth – check on his sheep.
That’s the way God works, it seems. Showing up in a flash and choir of angels, then seemingly disappearing. I wonder what the shepherds made of it all? They must have asked themselves, “Whatever happened to that little King and the angels that came to tell us about him?”
Scholars tell us that these particular shepherds were almost surely young teenagers and that they were likely minding herds that would be sold for temple sacrifice. It makes you wonder if they ever got to hear Jesus teach, 30 years after that fantastical night.
I like to think that a few of them watched as John the Baptist pointed out adult Jesus and declared, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
Or maybe they were strolling by with their herd, overhearing Jesus teaching, “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.”
And maybe one or two were still around when that Good Shepherd became the Lamb that John bellowed about and it all finally clicked with them.