Luke 2:8-21 (ESV)
8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 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. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” 15 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.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. 21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
At the same time Jesus was born, shepherds work at night in the field near Bethlehem. An angel appeared to the shepherds and announced that in Bethlehem the City of David, the Messiah of Israel had arrived! The shepherds were afraid, but they chose to go to Bethlehem to see what had happened. In the first century, working as a shepherd was not an esteemed occupation, so normally lower class persons ended up in this role. Jesus’ transition from the womb of the teenaged Mary into our world was steeped in humility. The local hotel rejected him and his family, they landed in an animal barn, he ended up in a feeding trough, and he was visited by shepherds, who were considered the lowly in society. And yet, through all of this, God was with Jesus and his family. After the shepherds saw the newborn Jesus, they spread the news about what they experienced and heard to those with whom they crossed paths. They were the first men to preach the gospel or the “good news” about Jesus to others. These things amazed those to whom they spoke. Mary, however, heard what the shepherds said about the angels’ visit, and, as verse 19 says, “treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” She didn’t simply marvel, like the others, but she embraced the testimony of the shepherds.
Jesus’ birth wasn’t spectacular or grandiose by the world’s standards, yet it was the reason for the angels’ rejoicing and praising of God. The view from heaven is not the same as the view from earth. Psalm 15 says the one on the same page with God rejects the unrighteous but honors those who fear the Lord. When the prophet Samuel anointed David as the King of Israel, though David was young and didn’t seem like the best candidate for the job, God said, “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Are you trying desperately to fit in with the cool crowd, embraced by the world while longing to be right with God? If so, realize that the followers of Jesus are called to live differently than the ungodly around them. Choose today to stop trying to gain acceptance from man, and instead humbly embrace the approval that comes from God, even if you become the laughingstock of the world.