In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped tightly in cloth and lying in a manger.” Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people he favors!”
When the angels had left them and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” They hurried off and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the manger. After seeing them, they reported the message they were told about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had seen and heard, which were just as they had been told.
Most of us grew up listening to and reciting Luke’s account of the Christmas story. It is the fulfillment of prophecy and the basis for our faith in Jesus Christ, our Savior. As I was studying this all-too-familiar story, I began to understand more how God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things for Him and His kingdom.
It reminded me of an experience I had in seventh grade. I was a member of the Glee Club in my school. I and two other singers were selected to play the angels in the Christmas Story play that year. I have never forgotten how that experience made me feel. I loved dressing up in that white robe and wearing that halo and singing those beautiful songs. However, that was not the main reason I felt special. It was the fact that I was chosen that made me feel special.
God chose the shepherds abiding in the fields, tending their sheep, to spread the good news of Jesus’ birth. At first the sheer presence of the angels with the glory of God shining on them frightened these humble servants. But the angels reassured them, letting them know God had chosen them to see the baby Jesus and to spread the good news that the Messiah had come.
The shepherds never wavered in their faith. They immediately went to Bethlehem to see the Christ child. Their obedience without hesitation was the reason they were chosen. After they had seen the baby Jesus, they began to report what they had been told by the angels. This child was God’s only begotten Son, born of a virgin, and destined to be the Savior of the world.
These humble shepherds who were tending the lambs to be sacrificed for the Passovers were now in the presence of God’s sacrificial Lamb. God chose the shepherds instead of the religious elites to relay the good news. They spread the word quickly, never stopping to analyze or think about it.
God’s plan is a simple one, yet profound in depth and scope. He didn’t choose religious scholars to announce the birth of the Messiah. He chose ordinary people whom He knew would be obedient without question.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- God chooses ordinary people for extraordinary tasks.
- Are you obedient when God calls you, or do you hesitate?
Remind children that the fact that God chose the shepherds to tell the good news about Jesus’ birth was significant because not only were they ordinary people who were the first to hear about this extraordinary event, but they also obeyed God by going and telling about all they had seen and heard. In a way, they were like the first missionaries, telling everyone they could about Jesus! Point out that we can be like the shepherds too and tell our friends and family about Jesus and His love for them. Explain that they will be making sheep to display in their room or somewhere around the house to remind everyone of how the shepherds told the good news and we can too.
Supplies needed: handful of cotton balls, paper plate (per child), black construction paper (per child), scissors, glue/glue stick.
- Turn the paper plate to its backside and have children glue cotton balls to fill up the back of the plate.
- Using scissors, cut out a sheep face with the black construction paper…don’t forget to add ears! (If you are unsure of shape, find a picture online)
- Using the remaining construction paper, cut out two-inch-long rectangles or ovals to use as legs for the sheep.
Pray for Danielle, a global worker from our church family in Sub-Saharan Africa. She works with both Living Hope and King of Kings Baptist Church introducing children to Jesus and discipling them. Remember, it’s summer in South Africa, so when you pray for Danielle and the kids she shepherds, picture them in warm weather!