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)
When the angel appeared to the shepherds that night 2,000 years ago, those men were, understandably, alarmed. At best, it must have been startling for angelic light to split the darkness of the sky, and at worst, any number of preconceived notions about the supernatural could have fueled their fears. Mercifully, the angel began by setting their troubled minds at ease before sharing the news that would change the course of human history.
It's easy to take the shepherds' inclusion in the Nativity for granted, but it is a detail that should not be overlooked. Set against the star that drew three kings to the manger, this personal, angelic announcement to a rag-tag, rough bunch of men demonstrates that this news truly was and is for all people. In fact, it shows that Jesus' entrance into human history was especially for the humble and lowly. With the angels, the shepherds, and all who believe Jesus is the Messiah, we can sing, "Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her king!"