"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
Glory to God is the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"
- Luke 2:13-14
Here is what we often neglect about this scene...
This celebrated and glorious song is rendered to an audience of social outcasts: Shepherds.
During the time of Jesus' birth, shepherds were banned from testifying in court and looked down upon by the religious and political leaders and the power structure of the Roman state. They were marginalized, disadvantaged, and nomadic.
Perhaps that is exactly why they are the first at-large group to hear the Good News of the Lamb of God's birth.
First, one angel shares the good news with the shepherds (v. 9). But, seemingly the word was so good that the heavens could not contain the joy of the message and bursts into a multi-angel chorus.
Let's grasp this truth: shepherds heard the good news of Christ's birth first. The word of Jesus' arrival, the very beginning of the gospel story, comes to the outcasts first; the least likely of people.
Again, we see Radical Reversal as a theme in Luke: Those who should get the revelation of who Jesus is, don't. Those who were the least likely to understand Jesus, do.
God knows our lives. He loves us and does not exclude us, no matter our pasts or what others think of us (nor what we think of ourselves). God's plan for salvation includes everyone, even those who seem to deserve it least. Notice the angel's words to the shepherds in verse 10.
"Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people."