Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.
Relate: Small beginnings. Zechariah is talking about the beginning of the rebuilding of the Temple when God makes that prophesy through him. Those old enough were able to remember the former Temple. Those too young to remember heard stories that were the foundation of legend and hope. It seems that legend and hope are always bigger than the reality when it comes. The waited for reality just doesn’t seem to match up.
For a devout Jew in Zechariah’s time, as well as every generation for the next few centuries, there was no bigger legend, no bigger hope, than the coming Messiah. They were a vassal state of the Persians. Then the Greeks. Then they would be a chess piece in the power games between Egypt and Syria. They would only finally break free from that by falling under the thumb of the Romans. But one day a Messiah would come.
And then he came. All 5-10 pounds of him, needing to be fed and changed on a regular basis. Completely weak and vulnerable and dependent on his poor, uneducated parents. The shepherds saw the great company of heavenly hosts, but others had only those simple shepherds’ word to go on. I’m sure that many, when they went to check it out for themselves, when they saw this fragile child with his smelly diaper had to be asking… “This is it?”