Ordinary men with an extraordinary story
“When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, ‘Let us go straight to Bethlehem then,and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.’ ” Luke 2:15
In Jesus’ day shepherds were not popular in most social circles.Their jobs were dirty, their only companions were often their sheep and a few fellow shepherds. They were nomadic and unschooled. Folks considered them common and ordinary.
They were ordinary men with an extraordinary story.
We can learn about the blessings of His glory from the shepherds’ response to the angel.
“ ‘Let us go straight to Bethlehem, then,’ they said to one another.”One minute they were shepherds in the fields keeping watch over their flocks by night. The next minute they abandoned their livelihood,their worldly goods, in search of what the Lord revealed to them.
Suddenly their worldly desires became insignificant compared to the event in a Bethlehem manger that would change the world forever.Worldly desires have such an impact in our culture. Our worldly desires certainly compete with following Jesus. Everywhere you turn today the media saturates our lives with false hopes and impossible challenges to be independent, beautiful, extraordinary, happy, and self-sufficient with pearly white teeth, a name brand wardrobe,perfect friends and children and a couple of snazzy cars in the garage. Worldly desires compel us more when we neglect the simplicity of Jesus. The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem that night was a very simple, natural occurrence.Put yourself in the desert that night standing next to those three shepherds. Can you imagine the astonishment the shepherds must have felt when the angel appeared to them from heaven? Then they witnessed the heavenly host praising God and singing. Can you imagine the brilliance of that scene in the desert sky?
We need to rekindle some astonishment this Christmas at what that night in the desert meant to you and me. Just like the angel gave the shepherds clear instructions, Titus gives us some pretty clear instructions about what our astonishment should create in us. “For thegrace of God has appeared,” he said, “bringing salvation to all men,instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in this present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus.” Titus 2:11-13.
Are you astonished at the advent of Christ this year? Learn from the response of the shepherds that night.
First they recognized the instructions from the angel as coming from the Lord and they immediately obeyed. “ Let us go straight to Bethlehem and see what this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they came in a hurry.” Their response was immediate and confident. What do we do when we hear clear instructions from the Lord or from the prompting of the Holy Spirit? Do we “gostraight?” Or do we debate and negotiate with God? The shepherds determined to do what the Lord told them without hesitation.
Second they had something to anticipate. Put yourselves in their place again. Can you imagine the anticipation and excitement that must have swept over them as they journeyed to Bethlehem that night? Do we anticipate the Lord’s coming at Christmas? Do we treat that event with anticipation and excitement? Or do we plod through the rituals and the family traditions anticipating only the clean up and the credit card bills in January?
Third, we have a gift to share and a story to tell. God chose the shepherds to receive the greatest gift ever given. They were at the manger. They were the first people on earth to see the gift of Love from God. Christ is the gift from God that manifested His glory on earth. What gifts are you giving this year? How long will you shop?How much time (and money) will you spend on the Internet ordering presents online? Will the people you give gifts to use the gifts or store them in a closet, or trash them? Next Christmas will your friends and family remember what you gave them?What if you gave them all Jesus this Christmas? What if you share with them the love and blessings Jesus has given you? What if this year you did nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but with humility of mind regarded them as more important than yourself?
And last the shepherds had a story to tell. What did the shepherds do when they received that gift from God? “When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.”Luke 2:17.We have a story to tell as well. What was our response when we met Jesus and He came to live in our hearts? What happened when our lives began to change and miraculous things happened to us. The shepherds must have told their story to everyone they met. Luke 2:18 tells us,“And all who heard it wondered at the things that were told them by the shepherds.”
Who have you shared your story with this Christmas? Do your friends and family know the impact the Christ Child has made in your life?
It’s a wonderful time to ponder how the shepherds’ encounter with Jesus resembles our own journey to find Jesus. It’s a wonderful time to encounter His glory and experience His blessings. And then, like Mary did, treasure all these things and ponder them in our hearts.