walk in the word
The angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” (Luke 2:10, esv)
“And an angel of the Lord appeared to them” (Luke 2:9). To them. You can almost hear the emphasis there on that last word—the disbelief, bordering on disdain. Why would God pick out such a rough sort of people to become the featured audience for an angel announcing the birth of His only Son?
Shepherds were so . . . unsavory.“No matter who you are or what you’ve done or wish you’d done differently, God loves you—Jesus came for you.” Click To Tweet
I mean, it wasn’t a complicated job. It wasn’t a noble profession. Shepherds as a rule were not honorable men chosen from their long list of references and their ability to do hard work with their hands. As with anyone tasked with an assignment requiring little training or experience, they tended to be rather transient—more like vagabonds or gypsies, down the food chain from even the steady crop of day laborers that wealthy employers could routinely select from.
So when you think of the “shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night” (Luke 2:8), make sure you get the image right. These were little more than warm bodies, almost certainly watching someone else’s sheep, not actually their own. They were people with a past, men who’d done a lot of things to be ashamed of, a lot of things that needed forgiveness. Like us, they could probably think of many points and places in their lives where they wished they’d have made different choices than they did.
And yet an angel appeared “to them.” Do not lose sight of this fact.
Think of the One this angel was telling these shepherds about. Among the many complaints the religious officials would lodge against Him during His lifetime was how He was always hanging around with the wrong people. “The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them’” (Luke 15:1–2). They were constantly appalled at the kind of crowd He gravitated toward, and how the crowd gravitated toward Him—people who were so unlike themselves.
And yet so much like the rest of us.
In fact, as you hear and read this familiar story again during the Christmas season, let me give you another place where you might notice an implied emphasis. “The angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.’” All the people. It’s what makes this story so real and so beautiful.
No matter who you are or what you’ve done or wish you’d done differently, God loves you—Jesus came for you—as well as for the people you love, even if they feel hopelessly far away from Him today. Even those people you struggle not to despise, and who reveal to you in your despising of them just how much you need the same Savior as they do—Jesus came for them, too.
He came for us. He came for “all the people.”
And that’s something we can never emphasize enough.
Father, I’m unworthy of even being told that You sent Your Son to save us. And yet You’ve told all of us. You’ve made Him known to all of us. Thank You for not overlooking anyone in Your announcement of what You’ve done to redeem us from every sin and regret. Help me not only embrace with gratitude and joy the privilege of Your notice, but ignite me to make it known to others—to “all”—in the name of Jesus, amen.
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