• P. Frank

Angel Visits the Shepherds

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, Immanuel (God with us). “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6). He is also known as our Savior, our Redeemer, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Alpha and Omega, and the unblemished Lamb of God.

“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths and laid Him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:1–7).

On that first Christmas, by worldly measures, Jesus the King of Kings should have been born in a palace, surrounded by beloved family members, welcomed by a throng of followers, a golden crown placed on His head, and a golden scepter placed in His hand. But as we know, he was born in something more similar to a barn. He wasn’t placed in a golden crib, He was laid in a manger, otherwise known as a feed trough for livestock. Why was the Messiah, the Chosen One, our Savior, born in such a lowly and humble manner? Because God sent Jesus to save all of mankind, not just a select group.

What better place to start than at the lowly bottom? Jesus would constantly be underestimated for His humble beginnings, even by His own disciples sometimes. But that’s the marvelous glory of it all: while being underestimated, He would heal a paralyzed man, or drive out a demon, or raise someone from the dead, using only His words. If He had been an affluent king, robed in purple and gold, walking around healing people, it wouldn’t appear as awesome as it really was. Jesus was not someone that people would initially see and brag about. However, as soon as He started performing impossible miracles with just His words, it was more amazing than anything they could possibly imagine. That is what drove people to talk to others about Him, and what drove people to believe in Him as their Lord and Savior, especially after He rose from the grave.

“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!’” (Luke 2:8–14).

I don’t know about you, but I love a good orchestra or choir concert. Can you imagine how awesome it would have been to hear a multitude of angels singing in harmony? In that time and culture, shepherds were very lowly people and they tended to stay out with the herds of sheep more than with people. Why did God have His angels proclaim the best news that will ever be proclaimed to this lowly group? Why didn’t he proclaim His great news to the religious leaders who were well-versed in His Law? Human beings put too much value on big important news being delivered to big important people. But God delivered His great news to the lowly shepherds for the same reason that Jesus was born in a barn; He came to die for everyone, especially the downtrodden, not just for the big important people.

“When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” (Luke 2:15–20).

It didn’t take these lowly shepherds long to pull themselves together after the angels left the sky. They didn’t waste any time at all rushing to Bethlehem to find Jesus as the angel of the Lord had told them. And seeing what they had seen and hearing what they had heard, they knew that little precious baby was the Lord and Savior of all who believed in Him. We aren’t told this, but I wonder if Mary and Joseph allowed the shepherds to cradle Jesus in their arms. Mary and Joseph knew who Jesus was and I would like to think that they would have let the shepherds hold Him. That experience would make anyone who believes in Him glorify and praise Him to everyone they met; they wouldn’t have been able to contain themselves if they had tried. All glory be to God!