Shepherds first learned the news. An angel appeared to them in the dark of night. They were frightened. The angel said not to be afraid. But it’s not every night that an angel appears in the sky. He said he had good news. What kind of good news do angels share with shepherds? The Savior of the world has been born. Go to Bethlehem and find a baby lying in a manger. You will recognize him. They searched until they found the stable. They saw the babe lying in that dirty manger. He’s the one they searched for.
The shepherds themselves were dirty. Out in the fields for days on end. No place to clean up. No chance to bathe. No time to throw on fresh clothes. Dirt and worse was caked under their fingernails. Dried sweat coated their bodies. Those shepherds. They had no time to trim their hair or oil their beards. They were smelly. Sure. They smelled like sheep.
They came as they were. Unruly. Loud. Dirty. Outcasts. Able to lead sheep, but unable to lead men.
These shepherds were the first to see the Savior. That newborn babe. Fresh from the womb. Lying in a manger. So they went out and spread the news. They told others what they had seen and who they had met. They were unlikely messengers sharing the greatest message the world has heard.
That encounter with the babe wasn’t a random occurrence. It was ordained by God Almighty. He had that moment planned since the beginning of time. Those shepherds honored and worshiped the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. John 3:17
I’m like those shepherds. When I came to Jesus, I was coated with sin. I had disobedience caked under my nails. My skin had greed written all over it. My heart hid selfish pride. I didn’t have a chance to clean up before meeting the babe in the manger. But my uncleanness made the cleansing more meaningful. All these years later. I still find uncleanness wedged in places I thought had been cleaned. I still need a daily washing in the love and forgiveness of this King. I still need to keep the stain of wrongdoings and bad attitudes washed in the blood.
Why wouldn’t God choose the smelly? The unbathed? The social outcasts? This baby was born for them. He later died on that cross for them. He said everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
Here’s the good news. That babe lying in the manger is in the cleaning business. Oh. He begins the cleanup immediately once he’s invited in. The sins that have coated your heart with darkness are completely washed away. It’s a power wash. Your heart is instantly painted pure white. No stains. But other cleaning can take longer. Bad habits may take years to overcome. Branches of greed and roots of bitterness must be pruned and uprooted. The cleanup actually takes a lifetime.