Imagine with me for a moment, what it was like in the years before Jesus came. God had been quiet for 400 years. That’s difficult for us to grasp, but that was the way it was. It was spiritually dark. People held on to legalism and the stories past down for generations. They were waiting for the Messiah, but in the meantime, they lived with what they had.
And then God spoke. He sent angels to let people know that life as they had known it, was about to change. He was giving them the greatest gift of all – Himself. Immanuel. He was breaking His silence and entering into a New Covenant with those created in His image. Since the beginning He had planned this gift of love, joy, peace, light, and life; He was happy with it. He had spoken of it through the centuries, giving hints at who Messiah would be, where He would come from, and how He would save. Now the time was here, and He was excited to present His gift to the world. Can you picture how delighted He must have been that the day had finally arrived?
I imagine that our Heavenly Father was brimming with excitement. We, who are created in His image, get excited to give a great gift to someone we love; especially if we’ve kept it as a surprise, throwing out little hints here and there about the thoughtful and extravagant gift we’ve gotten for them. Before our loved one even receives the gift we are brimming over with joy and anticipation for the moment when we hand the gift over.
There is a story in John 4 about an encounter Jesus had with a Samaritan woman, (John 4), who was seen as sinful and distasteful. The women of the town wanted nothing to do with her. She was an outcast, and she knew it; but God didn’t see her as an outcast. He saw her as one He loved deeply, and valued enough to give her the message that Living Water had come to the world.
If these stories were unfolding today, it would be our natural tendency as human beings to expect that God would send His exciting messages to people with thousands or millions of followers on Social Media – that He would select the people we look up to and respect; but throughout Scripture we’ve seen that isn’t how God works. He sends His messages through the most unlikely sources, not the expected sources. The Jews were expecting a Messiah, but didn’t think He would come the way He did: heralded, not by leaders and famous people, but by a wild man in the wilderness, and by ordinary people who were being healed, set free from demons, and raised from the dead.
The famous people and well-thought-of and respected people were totally bypassed in this great story! Both the shepherds and the woman at the well could be considered ‘the least of these’. They didn’t have good reputations, weren’t highly thought of, and they weren’t welcome in certain segments of society. But God, had created each of them and prepared this good work for each of them to do. The unloved and unseen were given important, world-changing, messages to share with others that we still talk about today! This, I believe, is a hallmark of how God operates. This is evidence of His character – of His ‘higher way’ and ‘higher thoughts’ that is one way He describes Himself in Isaiah 55:8 – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.”
So, in His way of thinking that’s higher than ours, He chose the shepherds to be the ones to receive the news of Joy To The World, to feel the Father’s excitement at finally giving to the world the gift He had been preparing for such a long time; and the first people to experience that outside of Jesus’ immediate family, were shepherds.
Can you think of a recent message you heard, read, or received that you shrugged off dismissed the messenger? Someone of whom you’ve said or thought, ‘What could they possibly know?’
Let’s not miss out on the joy, beauty, direction, protection, and maybe even love, the Father has for us just because we’ve already decided that we know how God would work, what He would say, and who He would say it through. Instead, allow the Holy Spirit to do a new thing inside you by turning your ear to hear something He sent an unexpected source to tell you.
Copyright © Debbie Mendoza January 2020