“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good 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. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
~ Luke 2: 8-14
I have often wondered what it was like for the shepherds on that special night. Imagine it. It is a clear, starlit evening. You sit in a field or on a hillside and, but for the bleating of the sheep, it is silent. Pulling your robe about you more snugly, you try to fight off the chill of a steady breeze. Suddenly, a brilliant light illuminates the sky, chasing all darkness before it. A shepherd who has spent evenings observing the heavenly bodies, you know that this is a supernatural light. Indeed, it seems to penetrate to your innermost being. Trembling, you fall to your knees, shielding your face from the radiance. It is then that the angel speaks and reveals to you the mystery of God’s plan for the redemption of mankind.
You know the prophecies. In youth, you heard the old priests read from the scrolls in the synagogues and speak of a coming Savior. How you longed to see the day! Salvation for mankind! Deliverance from sin! Could it be that this was really the fulfillment of all that was foretold? Had it just been a dream? Leaving the flock in the field, you race to Bethlehem to seek confirmation of the angel’s words. Along the way, you meet with other shepherds who also saw the light and heard the otherworldly voice.
Arriving, you are scarcely winded, so great is your excitement. Lying before you furrowed in fresh straw is a baby. That which was foretold, at which the angels themselves had wondered, is fulfilled in this child. In Him, “righteousness and peace have kissed.” (Psalm 85:10) O Holy Night! You and the other shepherds tell all present what the angel said about the child. A worshipful silence ensues as everyone takes in the significance of the occasion. No event in history would ever, could ever, eclipse it in importance. This boy was God become flesh, and he would defeat death itself, opening the way for man to have eternal life!
As you celebrate Christmas this year, reflect on what the Lord has done for you. He didn’t merely become man so that He might shout the rules a little louder; He came to deliver you from the Law and break the chains of your bondage. Whatever presents you find under your tree, no gift is greater than salvation which He offers freely to all who believe!