8 There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby. It was night, and they were taking care of their sheep. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them. And the glory of the Lord shone around them. They were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news. It will bring great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 Here is how you will know I am telling you the truth. You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a large group of angels from heaven also appeared. They were praising God. They said, 14 “May glory be given to God in the highest heaven! And may peace be given to those he is pleased with on earth!” 15 The angels left and went into heaven. Then the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem. Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the baby. The baby was lying in the manger. 17 After the shepherds had seen him, they told everyone. They reported what the angel had said about this child. 18 All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary kept all these things like a secret treasure in her heart. She thought about them over and over. 20 The shepherds returned. They gave glory and praise to God. Everything they had seen and heard was just as they had been told.
I don’t know much about these shepherds aside from the fact that they were up at night looking after their sheep. To a great extent for me, this helps me relate to them. Even though I am not that familiar with looking after animals, I can imagine myself in their position – up late with some work mates, sharing stories, probably with a campfire burning.
I imagine that these shepherds are Hebrews with some background understanding of God, but their shock and awe when the angel appears gives me the impression that they would not have expected God to show up in this way, at least not for them.
What I love about this story and I am really challenged by, is the way that they respond- the scale of their visit by the angels leads them to drop everything they were doing to travel into the “nearby” town of Bethlehem (probably still a long way by foot) to see the baby.
Once they saw Jesus, the shepherds continue their response: they tell everyone about what they had seen and heard and they praise God.
Thanks Lord that you show up in unexpected places. Help me to be better at expecting your unexpected intervention.
Thank you that I have met Jesus as the shepherds did. May I have a lasting response that mirrors theirs – telling others and worshipping you. Amen.
Written by Ps. Justin Ware