“And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
The night Jesus was born the quiet world of these humble shepherds was lit up by the heavenly host calling them to hurry and go see the newborn baby. The shepherds are a pretty treasured part of the Christmas story. There’s always at least one in every nativity scene. They never fail to make a Christmas pageant—usually in the form of a cute youngster in his daddy’s robe, carrying a staff for which he has been threatened with everything short of death by hanging if he uses it Jedi-style to hook an unsuspecting audience-member as he processes down the aisle. We love the shepherds. The people of first-century Israel, however, did not.
Shepherds then were on par with felons who had served their time and been released. Nobody really wanted them around. They were doing a job that nobody else wanted to do, but nobody really trusted them while they did it. On the social ladder of the day they were sitting on the ground.
And yet, the birth of Jesus, the Son of God was announced first to them. They were the only ones privileged to be there with Mary and Joseph that fateful night to celebrate what God had done. Had anybody else actually known what was going on they would have been deeply offended to have been left off the list in favor of these dregs of society.
The announcement of the angels, though, spells out why they were invited when no one else was (well, the magi were invited, but it took them a couple of years to get there). The Messiah who had finally come to earth was great news for all people. Jesus had come for the whole world. The average Israelite knew the Messiah was coming, but she also knew that he was coming just for Israel. He was coming to condemn the rest of the world and save Israel, not to save the whole world. The angels told a different story…and the one that happened to be true.
Jesus came for everybody. He was born into scandals and visited by nobodies at His birth. He was chased by kings and spent time as a refugee. He had no permanent home for the last three years of His life. He touched the untouchables, He ate with sinners, He forgave criminals, He healed the broken, He raised the dead, He loved the outcast, and He brought good news to the unwanted. Jesus came for everybody.
The story of His birth is a story of good news—of Gospel—for the whole world. As we prepare for a new year and begin to put the Christmas story behind us, may you not lose that fact. May you keep living the story, both receiving and sharing this good news. Jesus came for everybody.