And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.
Luke 2:7-20 (NASB)
During Christmas time I like to read the story given to us in the Gospel of Luke. He tells of the story giving a highlight to the shepherds who were watching over their flock at night. We are not told how many there were, but I picture three to five shepherds of sheep.
I noticed the shepherds did three things during this event that I believe would do us all well to follow.
First we see that when the angel appeared they were afraid. Can you blame them?!? Here are these shepherds doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing when an angel appears with the glory of the Lord shining, and of course they have never seen this their life! I can imagine how they probably wanted to run for their lives. But the angel spoke and said to not be afraid – good news was to follow. What a tense moment they had to have experienced as they decided in their minds to stay still and listen to the angel.
We see next that the shepherds did in fact stay still and listen to what the angel had to say. These are startled shepherds and I am sure that the details of what was being said had to be hard for them to remember in their state of uncertainty. I think the angel waited long enough for them to gain composure and listen intently. We are not told, but I have my thoughts.
Then after the angel had told them the good news of the Savior’s birth, they were obedient. They got up and went in search of this baby in Bethlehem. Notice they did not get their affairs in order, but the went just as they were told.
Two lessons from the Shepherds
I think there are two lesson we can learn from the actions of these untrained shepherds.
We all become afraid at times. Some people do not like to admit this emotion, but we all have times we fear for our health, finances, death, family or future. Some people fear these kind of situations on a constant unhealthy basis and some of us just fear them quietly in our heads. I think the key is to recognize the emotion and determine it’s source.
Then like the shepherds we should take these fears and let the glory of the Lord shine on them. For us that simply would look like committing it to prayer. Ask God just what I need to do with this fear. Is there truth in the sources of the emotion?
Once we consult and hear from God, then we need to follow the example of these shepherds and take action. Take positive action just as God lays out for you. Don’t add your thoughts to it, but be obedient to the Lord.
I think if we follow these two steps from a time of fear, then we also would be blessed by our actions. The shepherds were blessed beyond measure by being a witness to Mary about the message they heard from the angel about the baby Jesus. Then they were one of the first on this planet to lay eyes on God who had come in the form of a human to be it’s Savior! Wow – how they were blessed!