"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, 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, good will toward men.
Imagine with me that you are on the Judean hillside on that very “silent night” with the shepherds. They are doing their job to “watch their flocks by night” as they do every night. I can imagine that they noticed the unusual star that had appeared in the eastern sky that would eventually lead the wise men to the Christ child.
Maybe they were in deep discussion about this “beautiful star of Bethlehem” when the angel appeared to them. On that dark hillside without the pollution of modern-day light, I can’t imagine what the glory of the Lord shining from that one angel must have been like! It must have been so frightening.
This angel’s “first noel” proclamation contained one of the many “fear nots” in Scripture, but this might be one of the most famous ones, and for good reason! The angel’s message is astonishing on its own - the Savior, the Messiah, has arrived right here in “the little town of Bethlehem.”
They were given clear directions about where to look for the baby – “away in a manger,” right? As if that weren’t spectacular enough, the night sky is SUDDENLY filled with “angels heard on high” singing and praising God! What beautiful music that must have been!
Listen in your mind – do you hear “the herald angels sing”?
The lowly shepherds on that hillside quickly decided to take what they had heard and seen and act upon it. They left the hillside and hurried to Bethlehem to meet Mary, Joseph, and the Babe as they had been instructed.
The Bible tells us that they left the town but not without going around and “telling it on the mountain”! This is the part of this scene in the Christmas story that I don’t want us to miss! Those shepherds were heralding the Good News of what they had seen and heard.
They were the Christmas missionaries!
In the familiarity of this story, I want you to look past the spectacular and focus on the ordinary. I don’t think any of us will ever see a host of angels proclaiming a message from Heaven, but we have that message in our hands.
Are we as quick as the shepherds to tell others what we have seen when we open God’s Word?
I love the last verse in this passage – the shepherds went home after completing their Christmas mission and continued to glorify and praise God for what they had seen and heard! They were the most unlikely audience, but God chose them to proclaim His truth. He could have used anyone, but He chose the shepherds. And thank God, they obeyed!
What about you?
Have you ever thought, “God can’t use me” or “I don’t have anything to give Him”? The shepherds didn’t have much either, but they gave what they had. Meditate on the words to the last verse of “In the Bleak Midwinter” by Christina Rossetti with these thoughts in mind. Will you sincerely offer the Lord your heart to be used by Him this Christmas season?
What can I give Him,
Poor as I am? --
If I were a Shepherd
I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man
I would do my part, --
Yet what can I give Him, --
Give my heart.
What will you give Him this Christmas season?
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