What if the shepherds never told?
As Christmas draws near, it is tradition to read the Bible stories of the birth of Christ. Most of us know how the story goes and who the main characters are. We know of Joseph and Mary who travel to Bethlehem and, finding no room at the inn, stay in a stable. We know that Jesus was born and placed in a manger. We know that angels heralded the birth of this baby Savior King. But what about the people who weren’t necessarily the main characters of this story?
One of my favorite parts of the Christmas story is the story of the shepherds. In the book of Luke, just after the description of the birth of Jesus, another story is told. Out in the field, shepherds are keeping watch over their sheep. During this time, shepherds were social outcasts. They were hated by many people, considered untrustworthy and unclean. Shepherds lived with their sheep in the fields day and night, ensuring that no harm would come to them. They were the lowest of the low. No one cared about the shepherds.
However, on this night, an angel appears to the shepherds. And while at first they are afraid and trembling with fear, the angel assures them, “Fear not, for behold I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” And then the sky is filled with angels, glorifying God and singing.
The shepherds decide to travel to Bethlehem to see the Savior. The Bible says that they go with haste. I like to imagine them running, excited beyond belief. All they know is that this baby is lying in a manger in Bethlehem. They probably search excitedly through the streets, waking up the whole town of Bethlehem to the presence of the baby that they seek. After they find him, they go about telling everyone they meet about what they had seen, praising God all the while.
No one cared about the shepherds. And yet, God chooses the shepherds to be the first to hear of the birth of Jesus. They are the first to share the good news with the rest of the people. God chose these men of humble means, these men that society deemed unclean and unworthy, and said, “Come meet my Son.”
The shepherds teach us that no story is unimportant. No life is not worthy enough. The Savior came for everyone, not just the wealthy or the educated or the strong. The Savior’s birth was to bring joy to all the people. And the shepherds were the first to tell about it.
This Christmas, consider your own story. Look over the past year and ask yourself, “Where did I see God?” And then, think about who you might share your story with. Who might be blessed to hear about how God has worked in your life, whether it was extravagant or simple, whether you are still struggling or you’ve made it out of the valley. God has given each of us a story to share, and it’s as much God’s story as it is our own.
What if the shepherds hadn’t told everyone else about what they’d seen? What if they thought, “I do not matter. No one cares about me.”? The people of Bethlehem would have missed out on an amazing opportunity to learn of Emmanuel, God’s Son, sent to earth to be with His people. By keeping your story to yourself, you just might be depriving the people around you of the chance to rejoice in God’s amazing work in the lives of God’s people.
Give more than presents this Christmas. Give witness to Christ whose birth we celebrate this season.