Chuck Foreman – Teaching / Missions Pastor
Somehow, in 1st century Palestine, shepherds had made their way onto the rabbis’ ever lengthening list of all the people God doesn’t like—right there along with tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers, the disabled and deformed, barren women, Romans and Samaritans.
The big problem here was that the rabbis never thought to consult God about their list of all the people he didn’t like. Turns out they were wrong. They had invented a ‘god’ like themselves!
We see in the details of the Christmas Story—many little, yet significant things we often miss—that reveal God’s intentional interest in, and even his pursuit of, all the people on the rabbis’ list of those they supposed God did not like. But now at this critical moment in history when he had become flesh, Immanuel—God with us, how could God convince these outcast shepherds that this newborn Messiah was for them? He knew and he let his heavenly messenger, the angel, in on his plan. The sign that would convince these shepherds to go find the baby in Bethlehem was, of all things, his manger bed. Upon hearing this the shepherds knew they would be welcomed. This child was not in a governor’s mansion or the king’s palace in the capital city of Jerusalem; he was in a common peasant home in rural Bethlehem. Since the guest room was occupied, the welcoming family had put Joseph and Mary in the main room of the house, shared by the family with their beasts of burden, when at night they all benefitted from the body heat of their animals. The Messiah was in the warmest, coziest room in the house, a common home just like the homes of these shepherds! This truly was Good News!
Even shepherds were welcome at the Messiah’s manger.
The song of angels was sung to those thought most unwelcome.
The unclean were considered clean.
Outcasts were honored guests.
The unforgivable found forgiveness.
And the manger was their sign!