God likes shepherds. Abel was a shepherd when God received his sacrifice. Abraham, after being called out of Ur, became a shepherd. Isaac, and later Jacob his son were shepherds. Moses was a shepherd when the Lord called to him from the burning bush. David was a shepherd when Samuel came to anoint him to the Kingship, calling him to the work of “[feeding] Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance (Psa. 78:71). The prophet Amos was a herdsman. Jeremiah and Ezekiel rebuked the priests of their time for being wicked shepherds of the Lord’s flock.
While the broader culture perhaps despised shepherds, God seems to pick shepherds to hear important news, receive important callings, be given vital messages. God is likened to a shepherd in numerous Psalms. later in His life, Christ calls himself the Good Shepherd (cf. Jn 10).
The nativity story includes this wonderful portion of the angel announcing the birth of Christ to shepherds, while they were out in some remote area outside Bethlehem and Jerusalem. An angel appears to them, frightens them as often happens to people who see an angel, and yet are told not to be afraid. The news which the angel had to tell them was good news. It was joy-filled news. It was get out the fireworks, pop the champagne, and have a party sort of news.
The Messiah has come.
He has come to be a Savior. He has come to sit on David’s throne. He has come and is in a feeding trough, wrapped in rags, waiting to be a sign unto them. The stars had been given for signs and for seasons, and now the heavenly host appears in order to give a sign to lonely shepherds.
These herdsmen likely cared for the sheep for Passover sacrifice, and they are sent to see the child who would become the final Passover sacrifice, who was also the true––and good––Shepherd of Israel. The response of these men ought to convict us. They immediately heed the angelic message (Lk. 2:15-16), and after they saw, they told everyone, and it is evident that they believed, and their belief was vibrantly joyful (Lk. 2:18-20).
Indeed they demonstrate for us the proper response to the good news of great joy which the angels proclaimed. Believe it, rejoice in it, and tell the world. And this, dear reader, is why our Christmas celebrations should make quite a noticeable ruckus.