07 Mar Christmas Words of Grace: Friday
Originally posted on December 24, 2010
“There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby . . . An angel of the Lord appeared to them . . . [and] said to them, ” . . . I bring you good news of great joy . . . Today . . . a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:8-11
Shepherds had a bad reputation in Israel; they were regarded as dishonest and unreliable. Yet it was to them that God chose to announce the most stupendous good news the world had ever heard, namely that the long-awaited Messiah had been born. How did they respond?
Firstly, they went to Bethlehem to see for themselves. Their reaction was neither one of credulity nor of incredulity, but of open-minded, unprejudiced inquiry. So “they hurried off” (v. 16), and they found what they were looking for. Truly “he who seeks finds” (Matt. 7:8).
Secondly, when they had seen Jesus, “they spread the word” concerning what they had seen and heard (v. 17). They could not keep the good news to themselves. They wanted everybody to know it.
Thirdly, “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen” (v. 20). In other words, their experience issued in worship as well as witness. But first, we read, they “returned.” They did not spend the rest of their lives in the stable or loiter around the manger. Instead, they returned to the fields and the sheep, to their homes, their wives, and their children. But, although their jobs and their homes were the same, they themselves were not. They were new people in the old situation. They had been changed by seeing Jesus. There was a spirit of wonder and of worship in their hearts.
The discovery of Jesus Christ is still a transforming experience. It adds a new dimension to our old lifestyle. As Billy Graham often says, it “puts a new light in our eye and a new spring in our step.”
For further reading: Luke 2:8-20
John Stott, Through the Bible, Through the Year: Daily Reflections from Genesis to Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006), 141-148.