Called to Be God’s Unlikely Witness

When they had seen [Jesus], they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
Luke 2:17,18

I like to imagine the shepherds spreading the news of Jesus’ birth that first Christmas. After seeing for themselves that the Messiah had indeed come, they served as God’s first human witnesses that he had fulfilled his promise. Was it still the middle of the night? Did they rouse friends and acquaintances from their beds? Were they singing in the dark streets of Bethlehem? Whatever the circumstances of their telling, the results were the same: all who heard the message were amazed.

Shepherds were an unlikely choice for such a mission. They are not the group that first-century Jews would have chosen for any type of announcement, let alone news that was truly earth-shattering.

In Jewish society, shepherds were low men on the totem pole. They had a reputation for dishonesty and thievery. Rabbis instructed their fellow Jews not to buy wool or milk from shepherds, but rather assume these were stolen property. Shepherds were also barred from testifying in court.1

Think about it. That first Christmas, God chose men with so little social standing that their testimony was inadmissible in court!

It reminds me of another unlikely choice for witnesses. This group also lacked social clout and also were not permitted to testify in court. Thirty-three years after the shepherds heralded Jesus’ birth, a small band of women rushed to Jerusalem with another amazing message from angels: the crucified Jesus had risen from the dead!

God bookended Jesus’ saving work with witnesses that no human would have chosen.

But God’s ways are not our ways. God calls witnesses independent of their social standing, perceived speaking ability (Exodus 4:10,11), education level (Acts 4:13), checkered past (John 4:17-30), terrible reputation (Luke 5:27-30, Luke 19:1-7) or any other reason that human reason would use to disqualify such choices.

And, in his wisdom, God calls you. You are God’s witnesses, whom he has thoughtfully situated in your own unique sphere of influence.

Perhaps, though, you are thinking to yourself that you really are like the shepherds… not very influential at all.

Are you a college student wondering what you possibly could say to the professor with a string of letters after his name? Are you the “low person on the totem pole” at work, thinking that no one would listen anyway if you spoke up? Do you say to yourself, “I’m just a layperson.” Or “I’m just a grandparent.” Or “I’m just [fill in the blank].”

You are not the reason people receive the message with amazement. Neither am I. Isn’t that one of the truths God seeks to highlight with his unlikely choices? It’s not about the witnesses; it’s about the Word.

This Word is a double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). It slices through the pretensions that sinners have constructed, cutting to the heart and judging it with authority. This Word is dynamite (Romans 1:16). Its explosive power blasts away the hard rock of unbelief and fills the heart with awe. All God calls us to do is simply unleash that awesome, authoritative power.

This Christmas embrace your mission as God’s own witnesses. Take the angels’ message into your Bethlehem with renewed confidence. Wake the spiritually asleep with joyful news. Sing in the streets, or your workplace, or the grocery store, or wherever your daily tasks take you. The Messiah has come! The Savior has been born!


Dear Heavenly Father, this Christmas we thank and praise you for choosing us to be your witnesses. Forgive us for the times we have focused on ourselves rather than the power of the Word. Reawaken in us the joy of sharing the angels’ good news. Send the Holy Spirit to kindle faith in every heart. In our Savior’s name we pray, Amen.


Written by Mollie Schairer
Provided by WELS Women’s Ministry

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