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First Thoughts

Christmas is for Outcasts

When something exciting happens in your life, who do you tell first?

You get the job. You find out the cancer is gone. You find out you’re having a baby. You find out the kids can come home this year for Christmas.

Who we tell something to first matters.

Conversely, we all love it when people say: “You know, you’re the first person I have told this to.”

Why? Because it shows us who the messenger values.

Now– enter Jesus. The Messiah is born. The Savior from our sins. The fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets has finally come. David’s Son! Abraham’s seed! Isaiah’s servant!

Who do you think will find out first?

Surprisingly, it’s the outcasts.

As Jesus Christ is born, the news is delivered first to a group of shepherds in a field at night.

This means something wonderful:

Christmas is for outcasts. It is for the lowly and looked down upon and not-good-enoughs. It’s for the unrighteous. It’s for sketchy people. The very first Christmas party at the manger was not attended by the cream of the crop but outcasts.

Take a moment to meditate with me on how we see God’s heart for the outcast in the very first Christmas.

God Picks Outcasts

Imagine I wanted to run for President in 2024, and I wanted to announce my candidacy and really get the word out about my campaign. What would you say if I told you that I would make my announcement at 3:00 AM on a Tuesday in my front yard while my neighbors slept?

Nothing against my neighbors, but I imagine you would not advise this, would you?

It would be shocking and unexpected.

That is exactly what God does with the news of the birth of his Son. In Luke 2:8, we are told that the message comes to shepherds in a field at night. Shepherds were notoriously sketchy and men of disrepute. A field at night would be a place where no one would make a public announcement.

And yet, this is the group. This is the night. This is the place where the most significant announcement in human history is made.

If you have been rejected, failed, have blown it, and are looked over, you need to know that God loves to get glory by demonstrating his mercy to people who don’t deserve it.

This also is a challenge to every Christian. We are instructed in Scripture to “associate with the lowly” (Romans 12:16). What types of people are we drawn to? Do we love the outcast? Are we drawn toward those that the world does not value at Christmas?

We are called to the outcast because we were the outcasts when God called us (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).

God Comforts Outcasts

When the first Christmas announcement came, it was initially horrifying. We are told in Luke 2:9 that an angel “suddenly” stood before the shepherds, and they were “terribly frightened.”

In Scripture, to see the glory of the Lord is not comparable to having a gentle sunbeam stroke your face. It flattens people to their faces (Isaiah 6:5) and is like a consuming fire (Exodus 24:17). This would have been a shocking experience for these shepherds. And it would have been even more shocking when they heard that angel say, “Do not be afraid” (Luke 2:10).

The angel comforts these outcasts with wonderful news. He comforts them by telling them that the Savior has been born in the city of David. And– shockingly– He will be found in a manger.

The comfort that the shepherds experienced is mean to be experienced by you and I as well.

You must listen to the news of the angels afresh. Imagine you are hearing this for the first time:

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.  And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

Jesus came for you. He came to give you joy and to forgive your sin. He came humbly as a baby so that anyone could come to Him. And He invites every outcast to come to Him.

But He doesn’t just comfort outcasts. He gives them a job.

God Uses Outcasts

The shepherds hear the news and immediately go to see what the angel told them (Luke 2:15-16). They arrive at the manger and tell Mary and Joseph what they were told. And then we are told that they leave the manger, “…glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.”

These outcasts who were the first to receive the news have now become those publicly praising God for this news. They begin spreading the glory of Christmas immediately after experiencing it.

God takes outcasts and chooses them, comforts them, and then deploys them to share the comfort and joy of Jesus Christ with the world. They are not sidelined as those with a “past” who need to be in the penalty box before they can be useful.

God uses them to spread His glory and fame.

So, don’t be afraid. If you are an outcast, a sinner, a “less-than”– Christmas has come for you! God has sent Jesus Christ into the world to be born, to live, to die, and to rise so that you would know that He will receive you if you come to Him in repentance and faith. You can trust that this Christmas.

Because Christmas is for outcasts.

Spencer Harmon is the Nocatee Campus Pastor. He is the co-author of three books: Letters to a Romantic: On DatingLetters to a Romantic: On Marriage, and Letters to a Romantic: The First Years.

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