Note: We will be examining each of the characters from the Christmas story found in Matthew 1–3 and Luke 1–3 on the blog this month. I’d love for you to grab your Bible and read those passages before digging into these posts.
There isn’t much about the Christmas story that makes sense from a human perspective.
God chose a young unmarried girl to be His mother.
He chose a manger for His bed.
He chose to be born under a hostile, power hungry ruler.
Add to the list of strange but true facts about the Christmas story, that He picked shepherds (as in guys who heard sheep for a living) to be His first missionaries. The guys who everyone else saw as nobodies, God picked to tell everybody that He had arrived.
You can read all of the shepherds’ story in Luke 2:8–21, but let me give you the Wikipedia version.
- It was nighttime.
- Shepherds were out in the field watching the flock in the dark.
- Suddenly an angel appeared out of nowhere. It was a bright, shining angel.
- The shepherds were scared. (I’m guessing they’d never seen a bright, shining angel before).
- The angel told them not to be afraid, because that very day a baby had been born in Bethlehem that would bring “good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” The angel also told them that the baby would be the Savior.
- The angel told the shepherds where to find the baby and then sent them on a supernatural scavenger hunt to find Jesus.
- For added affect, the one angel was joined by a choir of angels singing worship songs to Jesus at the top of their lungs. (Kind of like church camp, only with lots more singers that glow in the night sky!)
I love how the shepherds respond:
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord had made known to us” (v. 15).
And then, check this out …
And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger (v. 16, emphasis added).
They didn’t wait around and didn’t mess around.
They didn’t dawdle or dilly-dally.
They put some hustle in their step and went where the angels told them to go.
Then the Bible tells us that they got busy telling anyone who would listen about the message God entrusted to them.
Do you ever feel like the shepherds may have before that close encounter with a choir of angels? Like a nobody? An outcast? Like somebody with nothing to offer? Do you ever think there’s no way God could ever call you to something big because you don’t have the skill set to carry it out anyway?
God uses all kinds of people in His Word to carry out His mission, but they all had one thing in common (and it wasn’t superior looks, social skills, talents, or connections).
The thread that connects every hero in the Bible is simply this—a willingness to obey.
In fact, the shepherds remind me of the calling of the prophet Isaiah. We don’t know much about Isaiah except that God called him to point out sin, preach the good news, and share God’s plan with the people of Israel. Isaiah 6 records Isaiah’s vision of God in heaven. Isaiah wrote, “And I heard the voice of the LORD saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here I am! Send me'” (v. 8).
Those five words, “Here I am! Send me,” are jam-packed with meaning. Isaiah was telling God, “Pick me! Pick me! I will go.”
If we want God to pick us for a big mission, we need to have the same attitude as Isaiah and the shepherds. We need to be willing to go where God wants us to go, to do what God wants us to do, and to move when God calls us to move. We can’t wait around until it all makes sense. We must be willing to obey “with haste.”
God didn’t send an angel to the shepherds that first Christmas because they were the best and the brightest. He sent one because they had hearts that were willing to respond quickly when He gave them an assignment.
Do you want to make a difference? Do you want to be used by God to do something big? You don’t have to make it happen or worry that you’re not the kind of person God wants to use. If He can use a Jewish teenager to deliver the Messiah and a bunch of smelly sheepherders to deliver the Good News, He can you use!
But you have to listen to His voice and be willing to follow God wherever He leads.
With that attitude in mind, let’s repeat Isaiah’s words together this Christmas Eve.
“Here I am! Send me.”