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Why Shepherds?

Kimberly Wagner

Kimberly Wagner | 12.20.10
Twitter: @KimberlyWagner7


Why shepherds? Why didn’t the angels appear to the Jewish religious leaders? The Pharisees?  The high priest or somebody with influence?

Why Joseph? Why Mary? Why Nazareth?

One detail stands out prominently in the Nativity narrative: God chose the ordinary for the most extraordinary event in human history. And that seems to be one of His distinguishing characteristics–delighting in choosing the humble.                                                                                       

Other than certain private angelic appearances, there was nothing in Christ’s first Advent which would indicate His royal position–even down to the choice of His birthing room! His parents bore a “social stigma” as residents of Nazareth. It was considered a contemptible village of manual laborers, not exactly a place to find the progressive elite in society.

Although Joseph descended from the noble lineage of King David, he was no monarch, only a simple carpenter. Mary remained under the shadow of cruel suspicions and moral accusations. The holy family was undoubtedly snubbed by the sophisticated and perhaps even endured prejudice and ridicule. But of all the families in the world, the Father chose this young couple to raise His Son. 

The Father must’ve been smiling as He sent a very special envoy to announce His Son’s birth: a glorious heavenly host decked out in full angelic array! And who did He choose to send this Parousia Invitation to? The guardians of sacrificial lambs. What more lowly position than shepherds could the Father have chosen for His personal guests in attendance at the Messiah’s birthday?

I have always taken great comfort in the knowledge that the Father delights in using the plain and ordinary. With Peter, He took a cocky fisherman and produced a passionate preacher of the Gospel. He prepared a humble Bedouin woman to conquer the mighty Canaanite General Sisera with nothing more than a tent peg. And I love the fact that He spoke through a donkey in order to get the attention of a stubborn false prophet!

Perhaps you struggle with insecurity or feel you have nothing to offer. Take heart, you serve One who seeks those who know they are needy, and He delights in using small and ordinary tasks as preparation for the extraordinary. Don’t you love Him even more for choosing the common to perform His glorious work?

What a wonder He is!

“In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased’” (Luke 2:8-14).

Topics: Relationship with God


  1. My heart has been pricked. God uses the humble when they are obedient. My insecurity has been exposed as doubt which is sin. Oh, to shed this camouflage of fear and become a more useful warrior in the Kingdom!
    posted by DIanne
    on Monday, December 20, 2010 at 11:02 am
  2. Dear Diane,

    Just wanted to encourage your heart. God used many who greatly struggled with insecurity and fear: Moses, to Joshua he stated many times be strong and courageous for I am with you, Gideon, and even the disciples when they were in the boat Jesus stated "It is I, do not be afraid."

    Nancy has encouraged me in the past that the "antidote to fear is God". Knowing God and His character. His perfect love casts out of fear. Being secure in God and Who He is and not ourselves. I write as one who knows what it is like to feel as you do, yet press toward Him all the more for change, and most of all thankful to be shown continually just how much my heart needs my Savior.

    I pray the Lord will use you in a great way for His kingdom.
    posted by A_Friend
    on Monday, December 20, 2010 at 11:52 am
  3. As within our culture, we focus on success and wealth, we can overlook experiences and/or events that are true and good. I have been studying childbirth practices in the U.S. and was startled to come across the story of a Finnish immigrant midwife. I have written about her on my current blog.
    posted by Carol
    on Monday, December 20, 2010 at 3:02 pm
  4. "Perhaps you struggle with insecurity or feel you have nothing to offer. Take heart, you serve One who seeks those who know they are needy, and He delights in using small and ordinary tasks as preparation for the extraordinary. Donít you love Him even more for choosing the common to perform His glorious work?

    What a wonder He is! "

    What a wonderful paragraph!

    I often struggle with feeling like I have nothing to offer; like I wasted my gifts with the stupid choices I made when I wore a younger woman's clothes. What use can a plain, intelligent but flunked out of college, wife and mother have to the Master of the Universe?

    It's helpful to be reminded of how God uses the ordinary to accomplish the extraordinary. May God use me in my plainness to further His Kingdom.

    P.S. "Why shepherds?" was a question I often asked myself. I think that it could partly have been because, in their humbleness and simplicity, they would accept the appearance of, and declarations from, the angels at face value and in full faith. What would a Pharisee have thought if he saw a host of angels? I think he probably would have thought he was going mad and kept the event to himself.
    posted by Sharon G.
    on Monday, December 20, 2010 at 6:59 pm
  5. Dearest Sharon,
    You are not plain, but precious. You may have flunked out of college, but I'm sure that the choices you've made today are greatly different from those in the past. God chose you! God, the Creator of the universe loves you with a deep abiding love.
    He revealed Himself to the shepherds and He has revealed Himself to us.
    As a wife and mother, God can use you in wonderful ways that impact our world. Be encouraged. Look to the Great Shepherd as He promises to guide all of His sheep.
    posted by Kathryn
    on Monday, December 20, 2010 at 8:43 pm
  6. What a wonderful reminder for myself and others this Christmas who are struggling financially. The Angels God sent did not appear to the social elite of that day - but to the humble and simple shephards. That's what its all about - the heart of God is with those that have a heart for him in spirit and in truth. Thank you for the encouragment and Merry Christmas. :-)
    posted by Melinda
    on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 at 1:21 pm

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