The first people to witness the coming of the Savior were shepherds; they were uneducated, uncultured, and suspicious characters because they lived outside of town among the animals. They were not the only ones to visit Jesus, but they were the first to welcome the Lord.
It was no accident that such simple people would be summoned to pay homage to Jesus. It is to the humble, the poor, the simple, and the ordinary after all, that Jesus came first as Lord and Savior. To the good people of his day, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God ahead of you” (Matthew 21:31 NIV). The circumstances of his birth testify to this: Mary wrapped him in swaddling clothes, mere strips of fabric, and laid him in a manger, the box from which animals were fed.
Christmas is the annual reminder and celebration of the awesome reality and wonder of the nearness of God: in Jesus, God came near to us, became one with us, and lived among us. The nearer we are to our God, the nearer we should become to those who are special in God’s sight.
We are challenged at Christmas to do what Jesus and the angels did: bring the good news to the outcast and the lowly. The tidings of great joy are to be shared by all of God’s people, all who have turned to Jesus; and this good news is to be shared with all people, no one is to be left out, not even the most hopeless, overlooked, or sinful person.