God could have announced the birth of his Son to anyone. It was his choice.
He chose to send his angels to the fields near Bethlehem, to some shepherds watching their flocks at night. Not the high priest in the Temple. Not the wealthy aristocrats in their mansions. Not the emperor in his palace or even the governor. Common shepherds.
By announcing the birth of the Savior to everyday working-class folks, God made a clear statement about his plan for salvation. The Lord of heaven and earth cares about the little people.
Jesus grew up in the house of a carpenter, a working man. He was not groomed for political power and influence, or fame and fortune. He learned a trade.
As an adult, after Jesus started to travel and preach, he gained a reputation as being the friend of outcasts. He spent time with the marginalized of his culture.
All this is in keeping with many Old Testament Scriptures that reveal God’s special concern for those who are disenfranchised in this world. The orphans. The widows. Foreigners.
Some students of the Bible call this God’s “preferential option for the poor.” In other words, the Lord has a soft spot for the downtrodden.
If God is especially concerned about the poor, does that mean that he is hostile toward the wealthy? In one place the Bible tells rich people to “weep and wail over your coming distress!” (James 5:1)
So, if the Lord is opposed to rich folks, then he would seem to be in step with certain strands of current political thought. He must be the God of the ninety-nine percent, right?
But wait. Didn’t God announce the birth of Jesus to another group in addition to the shepherds? He did! It’s true, the shepherds got an angelic choir, but some wise men from the east got a unique celestial phenomenon, that is, a bright star.
These wise men were able to travel a long distance, not easy in the ancient world. They had the wherewithal to present Jesus with high-dollar gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They must have been rich. Were they part of the one percent?
The fact is, God did not send his angelic choir to all the shepherds, or to all the poor people for that matter. Neither did he send a special star to everyone with the wealth to travel great distances and offer valuable gifts. But he did choose some of the poorest and some of the wealthiest.
Not only that, God chose some near and some far. The shepherds lived in the neighborhood. They were Jewish. The wise men came from a great distance. They were foreigners, Gentiles.
By announcing Jesus’ birth to the poor and the rich, the near and the far, the Jew and the Gentile, the Lord made a very clear statement: He cares about all kinds of people. He cares about you, despite your place in the hierarchies of this world.
And, by announcing the birth of Jesus to groups who were so different, God was making the point that Jesus is the one Savior for all peoples everywhere. One Lord and Savior for everyone. One Lord and Savior who is willing and able to save anyone.
No matter who you are, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord; and if you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, then you will be saved (Romans 10:9). Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will to all!
Brother Richard Foster, Pastor
Grace Baptist Church, Camden, AR