Luke 2:8-20 – Tell Everyone
“That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said. ‘I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.’
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
‘Glory to God in highest heaven,
and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.’
When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’
They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.”
– Luke 2:8-20NLT
The presents are unwrapped, the stockings are empty, the gaping “under the tree” space seems oddly desolate after a month of slowly filling with shining packages and color-coordinated bows. Outside, a few, fat flakes lazily spiral to the earth from a leaden sky. A cloud bank has settled on the mountains, leaving a sleepy, snow-draped world barely revealed below. The world is quiet, cold, and still. Fire crackles at the hearth, warming the house, and if your family is like mine, Christmas lights will still illuminate the night until Epiphany, the day we celebrate the magi’s arrival at the door of Mary and Joseph.
But the bulk of the Christmas celebration is over. We hold onto the glow, the peace, the satisfaction of another year past for a few short days… but soon it will be back to schools, to jobs, to the everyday goings-on of life.
And really, how different was the first Christmas?
In Luke 2:8-16, the angels announce Jesus’ birth to the shepherds. The messiah of Israel was someone the shepherds were used to waiting for. Adam and Eve first received an inkling of His coming in Genesis 3:15, some four-thousand years before. What a long, difficult time of waiting! And the gift they waited for was more than the latest smart phone or fitness watch. It was the promised king and savior, whom they believed would finally liberate Israel from centuries of foreign oppression, once and for all. When they heard the announcement of the angels, I see them running to the manger like children running down the stairs to first cast their eyes on the Christmas tree on Christmas morning. The excitement, the anticipation to look at last on that which, until now, had only been a promise long-awaited.
“And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child” (Luke 2:16b&17NLT). It’s so easy to shelter in the peace we know in the promise-fulfilled of Jesus. Salvation has come, we rest in His hand, secure in His love. But there is something about Jesus which calls our hearts to more than just a return to our “normal” when Christmas has passed. An encounter with Jesus as nothing more than a helpless newborn in a barn was enough to change the shepherd’s lives forever. This marginalized, outcast, scorned splinter of men on the outside of “acceptable” society were so changed by their encounter with Him, they were willing to enter into the society that hated them to announce Jesus’ birth. His advent was news so powerful no boundaries could keep Him caged within their hearts.
That same fire of faith, lit within the shepherds that first Christmas night, has burned in the hearts of people of all nations, genders, classes, and generations, crossing all boundaries our world has attempted to erect against the King in the Manger. Something about this unlikely King demands a response, awakens new life no matter the circumstances. He invites us to lean in close, to look at the face of the Creator, to gaze deep into the eyes of eternity… but then rise from the manger, back into the world for which He came, “glorifying and praising God for all [we] have heard and seen” (Luke 2:20bNLT).
- Think of the longest you’ve ever had to wait for something. What was it like having to wait so long?
- When that long-awaited thing finally arrived, how did you react?
- Have you ever felt that kind of enthusiasm in response to something God has done in your life? What was that like?
- Challenge for the week: spend some time thinking about what about the life of Jesus impacts you the most and ask Jesus to show you whom to share it with. If Jesus reveals someone to you, share like the shepherds did!