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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Evangelism (11/01/07)

TITLE: Shepards or Gabriel, You Make the Call
By Debbie Wistrom


Could it be that the purest form of evangelism ever, was when the angel delivered the message of Christ’s birth to the shepherds? Could we then say that the first evangelist was this angel? Maybe not, because one of the definitions of the word evangelism means to witness. Since the messenger was an angel, maybe we can say that he was only doing his job, by announcing the majestic birth and that he was not really witnessing his faith.

The other definition has to do with good news. Wikipedia says this “The Greek word originally meant a reward for good news given to the messenger; the word angel is of the same root and later "good news". The latter term gives rise to the word "Gospel".”

That leaves us in Luke chapter 2:9 where we see the shepherds minding their business on a clear chilly night. They listen to and trust the angel and all the good news that followed by taking the truth in as “gospel” and they leave their wooly charges alone in the dark to go find the Babe. Having seen the miracle, the shepherds were eager to share the good news. Have you thought about the mangy smelly shepherds as evangelists? Though there is no mention in the Bible as to how many ears heard the news from the shepherds, we can consider human nature and know that they told everyone they could find.

Yes, two of the four gospel authors tell of the story. They did a great job of doing God’s will by documenting the good news for all humanity, sharing the events that transpired that brisk night in Jerusalem. Matthew and Luke recorded and preached the words of the angel who delivered the message of good tidings of great joy, but their account would have been roughly thirty years later. The shepherds and even the wise men would have shared the joyful news with many others before the time when God gave the words to them. While the world looks at them as the Four Evangelists, they were not the first ones to spread the wonderful truth.

However, it was some months before the actual birth when the angel, Gabriel who visited Zacharias in the temple, foretold the news about the birth of his son, John, the forerunner for Christ. We know that he was not able to share the news with anyone, including his wife, about what the angel had said to him. While he had plenty to say after his son was born, it was with reverence and fear for the Lord, that he conveyed what the Lord wanted known.

We can be fairly certain that Zacharias and then Elizabeth and Mary and then Joseph, were not braggers; God would not have chosen them it that had been the case. We know of a conversation between Mary and Elizabeth, but the word did not get around the neighborhood because we know from the account of Mary’s character that they did not wag their tongues, bragging on what God had chosen them and their babies to do. Therefore, the number of gospel recipients at that time was still very limited.

Therefore, to find out when the words were first uttered, we have to look back to Joseph’s dream.
Was it Gabriel in the dream? We do know it was Gabriel again who made Mary blush with the news that God had chosen her to bring His child into the world.

With so much publicity, it would be safe to choose an angel, possibly, Gabriel for the title of First Evangelist. However, my heart is with the shepherds. You have to cheer for the underdog, do you not? After all, David got his start in the pasture. The characteristics that God is looking for in each of us is seen in this profession many times throughout the Bible, so it is not a stretch of the imagination to give that honor to the noble, albeit, smelly, shepherds.

However, I offer this as conjecture and in good humor to let you choose for yourself upon whom to bestow the honorary title.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Phyllis Inniss11/13/07
I like this slightly humorous article inviting us to choose between the shepherds (and not shepards as in your title) and the angel. The word 'evangelist' has the word 'angel' in the middle of it and we know that an angel brings good news, i.e. the gospel, or gives us warning. Both played a significant role in Christ's birth, because we know that God used them both.
Anne Linington11/14/07
Enjoyed reading your article, especially the woolly (had to check the spelling myself) charges. I wonder if you need to widen your thoughts to include Zechariah etc.. or if it would be stronger to keep to the shepherds and angels?