Shepherds had a dirty job. That’s because sheep are dirty. Therefore, so are the shepherds.
Not only that, but shepherds had to live away from town, away from other people. Their job prevented them from attending religious services, social events or meetings. They weren’t respected or included. Their job made them virtual outcasts. They couldn’t leave the sheep behind to run to Walmart. Sheep needed attention 24/7. They did their job. That’s it.
So one night about 2000 years ago a bunch of dirty shepherds were hanging out in a field. No one knew their names. No one knew exactly who they were. They were just doing their job, making sure their sheep didn’t run off or get eaten by a hungry beast.
Suddenly, something happened that changed the world forever.
And in the same region there were SHEPHERDS OUT IN THE FIELD, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 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. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a SAVIOR, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:8-11 ESV)
They were the first to get God’s big announcement that a Savior had just entered the world. One angel showed up with a lot of bright lights. Then a bunch of angels. All to make one announcement: for the first time in history a Savior was on the planet!
So why did God tell the shepherds first? Why them? Not religious leaders. Not nice families tucking their kids in bed. Shepherds. Ordinary shepherds dirty from their daily routine. Why them? Maybe because they were the best example of who Jesus came to save: ordinary, non-religious people.
The shepherds didn’t need rules. They didn’t need religious obligations. They instinctively knew they needed something else. And God gave them what they needed most: a Savior.