It is a little surreal reading this classic Christmas chapter on June 28 when it is above 90 degrees F in Memphis!
I was drawn to this passage today as I read:
“Don’t be afraid,” the angel said to them [the shepherds]. “Look: I’ve got good news for you, news which will make everybody very happy. Today a savior has been born for you–the Messiah, the Lord!–in David’s town. This will be a sign for you: you’ll find the baby wrapped up, and lying in a feeding-trough.” (2:10-12).
The sign the angel is talking about, no doubt, was that Jesus was to be found swaddled and in a manger. That would have been the clear sign the shepherds could use to find Jesus. What other newborn in Bethlehem would have been found in a cattle trough?
But I am wondering if there is more meaning to this passage than the literal. This is a very unorthodox place for the Messiah to be laid. This is not how a king should be born and laid to receive his admirers. And these are strange people to pick to tell first about the birth; shepherds were second class citizens or less.
Is that maybe part of the sign? Is this a sign of what kind of king this would be? An indication of what sort of ministry this savior will have and to whom he will minister primarily? A hint that he will be a much meeker, socially marginalized savior than expected, one better suited for shepherds and innkeepers? That would certainly fit what we know about Luke’s concern for the disenfranchised of his society. But it might still fit today, don’t you think?