“And they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.” — Luke 2:16Read the full passage: Luke 2:8-20
Isn’t it interesting that the very first group of people to hear about the birth of the Messiah was a group of smelly shepherds in a field? God-incarnate, the King of kings, had come to His creation in human form, yet He is born in such humble beginnings. First, there was no room in the inn. Now, the first people invited to see the Christ-child come smelling like sheep. But therein lies the beauty of the Christmas story.
The shepherds were likely busy tending Passover lambs to be used for sacrifice in the temple, atoning for the sins of the people. There they were, doing their job, watching over the sheep by night. When suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared out of nowhere, shining brightly in the glory of God. Of course, they were afraid! The angel’s quick message to them was to not be afraid because his message was one of joy. He had great news! The Christ had been born that day … and He was nearby in Bethlehem, just as the prophets foretold. He was there and they could find Him. It would be unmistakable; He would be wrapped in cloths and lying in a feeding trough.
This was certainly an odd message for the shepherds to hear, and if it hadn’t come from such an amazing source, they might have just assumed they were having some sort of weird dream. But then things got even crazier. Suddenly a whole bunch of angels appear with the first angel … and they started singing, loudly no doubt. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among people with whom He is pleased” (v. 14). And as quickly as they angels appeared; they were gone.
These humble shepherds were given the incredible honor of being among the first to welcome the Christ-child to Earth. These same shepherds went from tending the Passover lambs that were to be sacrificed as an atonement for the sins of the people to welcoming the true spotless Lamb (Jesus) who would one day be sacrificed for the sins of the world. What a gift for them to be a part of such an incredible story. Similarly, we are all invited to be a part of this same story. You and I are the recipients of God’s incredible gift to mankind, His One and only Son. Through this gift we can have life.
Questions for Thought
- How would you have reacted if you were with the shepherds the night that the angels appeared?
- The angels proclaimed an invitation to follow Christ, and the shepherds obeyed. Have you joined the story by giving your life to Jesus?
In Luke 2:20, we see that “The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen.” Their response was clearly to glorify and praise God. They carried this message of hope with them as heralds of God’s grace on mankind. During this holiday season, let me challenge you to be a herald of God’s grace as well by sharing the true meaning of Christmas (the birth of Jesus) with those around you.
Associate Minister of Education
Sean has a Master of Arts in Christian Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and is currently writing his dissertation for a Doctorate of Ministry degree from Liberty University. Sean and his wife, Katie, have been married for nine years and they have three girls, Caroline (7), Madison (5), and Emily (2).