“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” “
When the angels had left them and had gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in a manger. When they had see him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”
Luke 2:8-20 (NIV)
Although the shepherds witnessed a glorious scene, they were terrified when the angel appeared. This is understandable. Afterall, how many of us startle when something unexpected emerges from the dark? However, when the angel appeared, notice how the glory of the Lord shone around both the angel and the shepherds. A beautiful symbolism exists here. We now have the opportunity to stand in the holy presence of God because of the birth of baby Jesus and his future sacrifice on our behalf. Through Christ, we are now counted as co-heirs in God’s rich inheritance. Indeed, this is cause for rejoicing.
What awe the shepherds must have felt as they beheld the glory of the Lord. But let us recall another person who also stood in God’s glory. This other individual was Moses. He asked God, “Show me Your glory (Exodus 33).” God answered no one could see His face and live. But God passed by Moses and allowed him to see His back. Yet, for this to even happen, Moses needed to be hidden in the crevice of a rock with God’s hand covering him.
Another subtle correlation exists when Moses witnesses the glory of God. Did you catch it? God made a covenant with the Israelites at the time Moses stood in His glory. Out of this covenant was birthed the 10 commandments —the law God established to govern the people of Israel. Similarly, on the night where the glory of the Lord was witnessed by shepherds, another covenant was born. Jesus Christ in the flesh! Are you getting chills? Two instances of God’s glory being seen by man were also two instances when God’s covenant, both old and new were birthed with God’s people. Moreover, this second covenant which will be sealed by the future blood shed of Jesus is the actual fulfillment of the one established with Moses. Wow! It makes me want to jump up and down when we see how God orchestrates every detail.
The shepherds who witnessed this glorious sight, respond in three ways. First, they show eagerness to see what God has done. “Let’s go to Bethlehem to see this thing that has happened, which the Lord told us about.” In fact, they “hurried off.” Yet, for the shepherds to leave right away, it was highly inconvenient. They either had to mobilize an entire flock of sleeping sheep or abandon their charges. In either unidealistic scenario, they hastened with eagerness to seek the Messiah. Do we? Are we eager to do the things of the Lord even when it is hard? Or do we obey with a spirit of procrastination and reluctance.
Once the shepherds saw baby Jesus, they “spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child.” Friends, we are looking at the first evangelists for Jesus Christ. Even before the twelve apostles, the shepherds heard, saw, believed, and spread the word. They did not keep the Good News to themselves. The shepherds were so excited and filled with wonder, they were bursting to share. Are we?
Finally, the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God. In other words, the shepherds did not cease praising God once they left Jesus’s presence. They took joy and wonder back into their everyday lives. We need to do the same. Our lives need to be so transformed by the majesty of the Lord, our praises abound in every aspect of life.
Friends, do not allow the world, our country, or our life circumstances to steal your glory and praise of God. Instead, let us marvel at the miracle of God incarnate who is Savior and Lord. This is a Truth which is lasting and firm. It is a truth which inspires joy and praise. May we, as the people of God, glorify and praise God in all things and through all things. May we, as the people of God, let the light of joy burn bright as we share the marvelous wonders and works of the Lord.
Oh God, make me a servant whose heart is eager and hastens to do Your bidding. Use me, oh Lord, to spread Your Good News. Fill me with rejoicing that I might glorify Your Name in all the things I say and do. Amen.
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