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Luke 2:8-12 ESV

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to 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 this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

The first witnesses to the Nativity were not the Magi (mentioned in Matthew’s gospel), but common shepherds. This was a sign of things to come: a Kingdom of God in which the last will be first, and the first last. Remember what Mary had declared in the Magnificat?

Luke 1:51-53 ESV

He has shown strength with his arm;

he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;

he has brought down the mighty from their thrones

and exalted those of humble estate;

he has filled the hungry with good things,

and the rich he has sent away empty.

This was probably the last thing these shepherds expected to see that night!

Luke 2:13-15 ESV

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”

They hurried to see the newborn Savior of Israel and all mankind.

Luke 2:16-20 ESV

And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Why had God chosen to reveal the birth of Jesus to these shepherds? They were not rich, or powerful, or important members of the community. Were they especially pious shepherds? Perhaps, but Luke does not say. I doubt there was anything remarkable about them; we aren’t even told their names. They were probably just average Joes who happened to herd sheep near Bethlehem.

No one seemed to understand what had happened except Mary.

Luke 1:51-53 ESV

He has shown strength with his arm;

he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;

he has brought down the mighty from their thrones

and exalted those of humble estate;

he has filled the hungry with good things,

and the rich he has sent away empty.

The Gospel is not a message for the elite, but for all people, and all people are equal in His sight. Everyone is loved by God, created by Him in His image, with a plan and a purpose in mind. We are all His precious children. He is not impressed with our wealth, education, intelligence, athletic ability, or talents. In fact, according to the Magnificat, Jesus came to take these things away from those who trust in them, and give them to the poor who trust Him.

He did not send His Son to be born into a powerful family–Mary and Joseph were just common folk like the shepherds. Jesus’s first cradle was a feeding trough. In a few days they would offer the sacrifice on their firstborn son’s behalf: two doves, which was the offering of those too poor to offer a lamb (Luke 2:22-24; Leviticus 12:8).

Jesus was not sent to save the privileged, but everyone. The Gospel has levelled the playing field in a way that no man-made system ever could. The egalitarian systems of democracy and socialism are, at best, weak parodies of God’s system, the Gospel.

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 ESV

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Jesus Christ is power to the powerless, and we are all equally powerless to save ourselves. He is wisdom to the fool, and no one can figure out a way to save themselves from the wrath to come. He is righteousness and sanctification to the sinner, and we are all totally depraved. Christ alone is our redemption, because He alone has what we all need: the grace of God.

+Jared+

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