“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby,
keeping watch over their flocks at night.
An angel of the Lord appeared to them,
and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were terrified.
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.
I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you;
he is Christ the Lord”
Quietly and humbly a momentous event was taking place in Bethlehem. The Son of God and Saviour of the world was born. With all the hustle and bustle of the town, filled with visitors returning for the census, the Light of the world slipped in through the relative silence of the night. There was no town-crier to proclaim the event, nor squad of medical personal to ensure that nothing went wrong – just a man and a woman and, maybe, one or two others who happened to be aware of a birth.
Outside of the town there were a group of shepherds, watching over their flocks as they bedded down for the night. They were probably talking quietly to each other and, perhaps, looking up at the overwhelming grandeur of the night sky. Shepherds did not have a good reputation in Israel where they were generally considered to be unreliable and dishonest. And so it is both amazing and wonderful that God chose to make the announcement to them – ‘the most stupendous good news the world has ever heard.’
An angel appeared, and the glory of the Lord shone all around them, and the announcement was followed by a great company of the heavenly host praising God. We cannot begin to imagine what this was like, the effect of the praise of the multitudes of angels, and the blessing that it brought to these earthy men. But their response tells us a lot.
They went to Bethlehem to see for themselves. They did not wait for the morning but ‘hurried off’ and found Mary and Joseph and the baby. When they had seen Him they could not keep the news to themselves but ‘spread the word concerning what they had seen and heard.’ Then they ‘returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen.’
They did not remain in the stable or settle around the manger – instead they returned to their jobs and homes and families. But although these would still be the same the men themselves would be different – they had seen the Lord! And as Jesus life began to unfold in due course, and news of Him filtered back to these shepherds, they would have been able to tell their children and grand-children how they had been amongst the very first to see and worship the Lord and Messiah.
Will you seek Him and worship Him tomorrow?
Ensure you unwrap the greatest gift of all
In the night-time and in the morning Lord help me to be aware – of the child who was born and the angels who sang and the simple shepherds who worshipped and adored You. Let me slip in beside them in the silence of my spirit and look in wonder and love. Amen and Amen.