Have you ever tried to visualize the scene when the angel appeared to the shepherds to bring them the news of Jesus' birth? From the description the Bible gives us, we know that angels are majestic beings, tall and dressed in dazzling white. Can you imagine the reaction of the lowly shepherds, in their rough, smelly clothing accustomed to being surrounded only by nature and their sheep? If the angel had appeared to one shepherd he might have thought he was hallucinating, but since it was a group, they held on to their wits.
And why did God allow them to be the first to see the heavenly Babe? I think it was to show us that God esteems highly those whom society considers insignificant. Remember when the prophet Samuel went to Jesse's house to anoint one of his sons to be king, Jesse didn't consider David. When none of Jesse's sons received God's nod of approval, Samuel asked him, "Are these all the sons you have?" It was only then Jesse remembered David.
"There is still the youngest," Jesse answered, "but he is tending the sheep" (1 Samuel 16: 11).
The father's words are full of meaning. He is a shepherd, dirty, smelly and of no account. But David was the man God chose to be king.
I think another reason the angel appeared to the shepherds was to introduce them to the one who would one day become a shepherd like them, not to save animals, but to save the human race.
Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep" (John 10: 11).
This Christmas season as we think of God's great love in sending His dear Son into the world to die for us, let us consider how far-reaching that love is. It extends not only to the rich and powerful, but to the humble, the lowly, the outcast. It extends to each one of us.