You know the story and are probably very familiar with the passage of scripture found in Luke 2:8–20. It opens with shepherds doing what shepherds do — “keeping watch over their flock by night.” Their routine watch is then interrupted by the very radiant appearance of an angel of the Lord that casts a bright light around them. The angel’s message in layman’s terms:
- Don’t be afraid — relax, I need your full attention.
- It’s good news — that goes beyond happiness to great joy.
- It’s for all people — not just for the people of Israel, but for all mankind.
- Today the Savior is born! — the one who will deliver you and mankind from their sins has come.
After hearing the angel’s message, the shepherds believed enough to go and confirm the good news for themselves.
“So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger” (Luke 2:15–16).
They arrived at the location and found the Child as the angel had described. Although the full conclusion of this good news had not yet come to fruition, the shepherds “made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child” (v.17) The shepherds “and all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them” (v.18) because they recognized that they needed a Savior.
It is said that these same shepherds may have been caring for the very lambs which were destined for sacrifice during the time of Passover. They were in the habit of trying to get things right with God. Then in a way that only God could do, He reached out to mankind, because, mankind was not good enough to reach up to Him.
Did some misinterpret the unexpected message? — Yes. The Pharisees kept stumbling over the law. The Sadducees could not get past the resurrection of the dead, and then there were those who just would not believe — period. Mankind remains the same today. However, that certainly does not void the unexpected message heralded over two thousand years ago.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8).
This same Jesus, who left eternity to enter time as a baby in a manger, is the same Jesus who would later die on the cross for your sins and mine. As the shepherds were entrusted with the initial announcement of His coming, we have been entrusted with telling the rest of the story — that He came to die for our sins, and we will be raised with Him if we put our trust in Him alone.
In Christ, we are able to celebrate the depth of God’s love toward us. What better time than “now” for us to spread that love by sharing this “unexpected message” with someone else.
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