The mass choir makes sense, the audience does not. Why not the whole Bethlehem crowd? It was tax season. Or “the city of the great king”—Jerusalem?
Negative. A huge crowd of angels sang their hearts out—to a few shepherds, clearly on the low end of the social food chain. God is making a statement loud and clear.
People are often excluded. Lack of money, prestige, position, influence. The circle is drawn—and they are outside. Not when God draws it. He does not goes after the high and mighty but the low and poorly. Brains will not get you into the favor of God but humility will. You won’t buy your way or manipulate your way. Going low works. God has a predisposition for the needy. David wrote that “he is near to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” “Near” establishes proximity.
Shepherds definitely were on the outside. Their testimony did not even count in court. Their influence was limited to the few sheep they were fortunate enough to own—or that they shepherded for the owners.
Paul wrote, “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things…so that no one may boast before him” (I Cor. 1:26-29). There’s the statement God made on Christmas. And that is the way God is. As scripture attests, “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble,” money or no money, influence or none.
If you are wondering what to do in your baffling situation at work, in a marriage that has ground to a halt, in a menacing relationship with a neighbor, consider humbling yourself. It is never inappropriate, and it always gets the attention of heaven, even when you would not expect it (like with Ahab—I Kings 21:29 and Manasseh—2 Chron. 33:12).
God doesn’t need our influence. Trust me—He has plenty in the universe. He doesn’t need our brains. His ways are higher (though He wants to use whatever brainpower He has given us). He doesn’t need our money. (He wants us to understand that “the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it”). He does want our heart, the one that says with Mary, “Let it be according to your word,” rather than the one that tries to negotiate a deal.
The shepherds went for it. Instead of replying with skepticism (“Sure, a king in a feeding trough; right!”), they responded with genuine excitement: “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” And “when they had seen him, the spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child…The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told” (Luke 2:15,18,20). God proved that He went to the right people. Way to go, lowly shepherds! Way to go, humble Christian!