December 31 in Christmas

Luke 2:8-20

Angels and Shepherds in One Place

We know that of all people in the ancient world and even among the Jews, shepherds were among the least respected, which seems odd given that their greatest king (David) from whose ancestry the Messiah was to come began life as a shepherd.  It is also the image employed throughout the Bible of God’s ministers, be they good or bad.  But the fact is, they were outcasts in that world; their work left them “unclean” by ritualistic standards (and, I suppose, by the fact that it is the kind of work where one dirties one’s hands).  Nor were they considered especially trustworthy individuals; indeed, their testimony was not even accepted in a courtroom.  They were certainly a cut above prostitutes and tax collectors, but still near the bottom rung of society.  Needless to say, they were among the poorest of the poor.

And it was to these people God chose to send the angelic choir; that is, people of no account before the world and whom, if they chose to tell others of their experience (which they did), no one would believe, anyway.  (And God is just in acting this way since it would be people’s own prejudice and unbelief that would render them condemned.)  So God’s Son is born to people of no standing before the world, whose birth is announced to people of even worse standing before the world—in a stable (or cave), sleeping in an animal’s feeding trough.  AND THIS IS EXACTLY THE WAY GOD WANTED IT TO HAPPEN.

So let’s examine matters a bit further.  These poor, outcast shepherds are visited by angels—angels, mind you—the highest creature of God’s creation, before whom no king could stand.  (Remember, “I am Gabriel.  I stand in the presence of God.”  That would make me sweat!)  And in this one scene, angels and shepherds meet—the one group of beings full of glory, lighting up the sky, singing a chorus with such beauty and majesty no earthly choir could ever match, and the other group of beings, tired and worn from the day’s labor, dirt covering their clothes, hands, and perhaps their faces, wide-eyed at the heavenly scene above them, announcing the greatest news ever told to any group of people on earth before that very moment—the highest creatures of God meeting the lowest people of God, and yet, before the majesty of their common Creator, the glory of the angels is as darkness and the darkness of the shepherds is as light (Psalm 139:11-12). 

Poor Mary; her head must have been pounding.  But she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart—and so should we.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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