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."
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph,
and the baby, who was lying in the manger.
'Quick, you’ve got to see this!' Think of a time in your life when you heard that call to action. What kind of can’t-miss moment had you springing out of bed or jumping off the couch, setting every other preoccupation aside? What did you hurry off to see or to hear?
Now think of a time when you were frozen with fright. I’m not talking about being scared but about being terrified, hit with the panic of feeling undone, not knowing what comes next or what to do next. It could be that a piece of personal news took you by surprise. Maybe you saw a tragedy unfold before your eyes. Or perhaps it was a realization of how you had hurt someone or some other crushing awareness of guilt. Yes, those moments can be absolutely paralyzing.
Why would I lead you down memory lane for these two very different experiences? It helps you understand what the shepherds experienced that one life-changing night when they encountered first one angel, and then a whole host of angels with some remarkable news. You’ll better appreciate them hurrying off to Bethlehem if you can first understand them frozen in time in a moment of terror.
The idea of encountering an angel can be fantasized and romanticized as a wondrous event that we’d all like to experience. But when people on the pages of the Bible met these agents of God, the overwhelming reaction was fear. Angels are God’s sinless servants, but we are wrecked with sin. Sinful people wither in the presence of holiness. Think of your life flashing before your eyes – all the sinful things of your life, that is. I imagine that’s a hint of what the shepherds experienced when they were visited by a holy messenger from heaven. So the common response of angels was to begin God’s message by saying, "Do not be afraid," which is just what they proclaimed to those frightened shepherds. (Luke 2:10) Assuring them of God’s grace, they went on to share a message of good news of great joy for those shepherds and for all people, for you and me too. A Savior had been born, the One long-promised. They would find Him in Bethlehem, wrapped in cloths, lying in a manger. A whole chorus of angels told them what this meant, that God had sent His Son to bring peace between God and man.
And just like that, the shepherds are lifted from incapacitating fear to unstoppable joy that sends them hurrying their way to Bethlehem, determined to see their Savior. Imagine the ruckus they must have created as they searched for the Savior! 'Did you see the angels? Did they come here too? Did they tell you? Do you know where to find the One swaddled in a manger bed? He’s the promised Savior!' And at last they found what "the Lord has told us about."
What the Lord has told us about… Yes, us. No, I’m not an angel, and I wouldn’t expect that you’ll be greeted by one this evening. But the message of the angels has winged its way over 2,000 years to you today. The Lord Himself, through His angels long ago, and throughout His Word still today, tells us, tells you, about a Savior who has been born for us all. I pray this has you springing into action right now, reaching for your Bible, so that you yourself can see this thing that has happened. As we see Jesus on the pages of the Bible, promised and then sent, crucified and then risen, we can joyfully say with the shepherds, 'Here is the One the Lord has told us about!' What I’m saying is…You’ve GOT to see this!
See how the blessings of Christmas extend throughout the year to fill your everyday life!
Follow "The ABC's of Christmas" series:
INTRO, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X
Questions or Comments? CLICK HERE TO CONTACT DANIEL.
Christ Our Redeemer Lutheran Church
Daniel is the Staff Minister at Christ Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, El Paso TX.