“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.” Luke 2:8
For the first 300 years of Christianity Christmas was not celebrated. In an old inscription found in a list of Roman Bishops these words appear for AD 336: “25 Dec.: Natus Christus in Betleem Judeae.” Translated, it says, “December 25th, Christ born in Bethlehem Judea.” December 25, 336 AD is the first recorded celebration of Christmas. This may be true for the Church, but that is not actually the first Christmas celebration ever recorded. To find that first celebration, we must go to a Gospel called Luke.
Many of us can tell the Christmas story by memory; but have you ever thought about the first humans who ever got to experience Christmas in real time? The fact that God announced His Son’s birth to shepherds first is one of the things that makes the Christmas story so amazing. Shepherds were the last people anyone would tell important news to. Why not start with the influencers of that time like the High Priest, Sanhedrin, or Pharisees? Anyone but shepherds. They were the lowest rung of the social ladder. They were poorly educated and poorly paid, making less than minimum wage. They were dirty and smelly, and so disdained they could not hold public office or testify in court as a witness – because their word was considered worthless. And yet, this is whom God chose to carry the news of His Son’s birth to the world.
That holy night, in that pitch-black, dark night, the sky exploded and an angel of the Lord appeared with the greatest announcement in the history of the world. Here are the shepherds, whose names we don’t even know, at the top of the guest list to the birth of the Son of God – the very first Christmas! Aren’t you glad God has His own way of doing things?
Everything about the birth of the Messiah screamed that He would be a humble King. He truly did come, not to be served, but to serve. The silent night, the manger, the shepherds…the working class upbringing…the washing of feet…the death on the cross. No wonder it was shepherds who found out first that Christ had been born.
Application: Have you received the Good News about the humble King?