Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Story: Shepherds (Luke 2:8-20)

It was probably like every other day in the life of a shepherd.  Sit on the hillside watching the sheep, take a nap, talk about politics and religion, and keep watching the sheep.  Night had fallen and so I have a feeling the shepherds thought another day had passed with no alarm.  Suddenly, as Luke records in his gospel, "The angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them."  It makes sense that they were scared.  Wolves and bears they could probably handle, but a person coming out of nowhere was probably something they had never dealt with before.  
"Good Tidings of Joy (The Angel Appears
to the Shepherds)" by Walter Rane
The angel then said those remarkable words which will never be forgotten, "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you great 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."  Then the veil could not be kept back.  A multitude of heavenly beings came into view of the shepherds.  They came praising God and singing their anthems of joy.

When the angels left, the shepherd discussed  the appearance with one another.  They decided to go to Bethlehem and find the babe that had been born.  After finding the Christ child, they began to spread it to all who would listen.

There is a lot to learn from the story of the shepherds.  One point is that of the shepherds attitude towards the Christ child.  The angels came and told them the good news and then, as Luke records, they went with haste.  It is that haste that makes all the difference.  They didn't take their time nor casually meander; they ran to find the babe.  In our lives, when spiritual and great things come upon us, do we hasten towards them?  We have the choice to ignore them or not, but blessings come when we act with haste.

The other lesson from the shepherds' story comes from the declaration the angels made.  Peace on earth is something we all dream and hope for; however, I would settle for peace in my life as a start.  Through the Savior though, we have the promise that nothing will last forever.  It is not part of the plan for us to suffer in the eternities.  We will have our trials to learn and grow and then, if we endure in Christ, we will have peace and joy.

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