I was meditating on the manger scene the other day and had a wonderful insight. When you look at that scene, on what are your eyes focused? If you're like me, many of us grew up with the focal point of the manager scene as Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus. However, many people pay little attention to anything else represented in that scene. The other characters and the animal guests are more or less "window dressing" to point our attention to the three main characters. But it occurred to me how awesome it was to have shepherds at the manger. Only God could take a group of people who were considered at the bottom of society's popularity list and give them a significant place in the Christmas story! Shepherds were typically an ignored population of people but what is even greater, "God chose the foolish things of this world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of this world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things--and the things that are not---to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him." (1 Corinthians 1:27-29) In fact from Genesis to Revelation God speaks about shepherds and their important place in God's plan. God did not send the angels in Luke chapter 2 to the palaces or the temple to announce to the kings and religious leaders that Christ had been born. He sent the angels to the shepherds in the fields. The shepherds who were doing exactly what God desires of his leaders, to keep watch over the flocks. Jesus even takes on this despised image and calls Himself the "Good Shepherd" who lays down His life for His sheep. (John 10:11) Peter tells leaders to be "shepherds of God's flock....and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away." (1 Peter 5:2,4) And in the book of Revelation we read, For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." (Revelation 7:17) italics mine. How ironic that the King of kings and Lord of lords tends to His people more like a shepherd! The next time you see or think about the manger scene, remember that little baby identified with the least popular folks in His time. He lifted them up and showed the world God's tender heart for His people.
Merry Christmas to you all!