Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Luke 2:8-18

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 of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ 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,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

It's easy to overlook the significance of the shepherds' response to the angel's message. These men were the least educated, roughest, and lowliest of the peasants. Angelic appearances happened to the priests, if they happened at all.  Fear was certainly a first response, but bewilderment perhaps should have been a second reaction. Maybe disbelief would follow bewilderment. Modern people would probably analyze, justify, or try to explain the angels as some natural phenomena.
These shepherds, however, were neither bewildered nor analytical. They dropped their staffs and went directly to see the promised Messiah. That's trusting faith.
We don't see too many angels this day and age. God speaks clearly to us, however. He says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) Those shepherds were both weary and burdened by their occupation and their place in society. The very moment they were invited to see the Promised One, they left everything to go. We never hear about them again after they leave Mary and Joseph, but we can deduce their changed lives by their reaction to Jesus: When they had seen 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. (Luke 2: 17-18)
How easy it is to overthink God's great gift. The shepherds understood the magnificent simplicity of how the prophecies of the Messiah would be fulfilled: God became man so that man could know God.
I want to have the faith of those shepherds, who took God at His Word, and never looked back.

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