The Christmas Story Part 3: While Shepherds Watched

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them,

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and 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 among those with whom he is pleased!” 

 Luke 2:8-14

The shepherds were probably uneducated, relatively poor men working in harsh conditions. Yet God chose to reveal to them the “good news” that the Saviour of the world had been born that very day. God did not reveal this to the great and the good and certainly not to King Herod. It shows that God is not a “respector of persons”. It is not a person’s “position” that He is interested in but their “disposition” or attitude. Their response to the angels shows that they were God fearing men. 

Clearly from the account in Luke they were frightened and the Angels reassured them that they had nothing to fear for this was good news that they were bringing. Their message has been copied onto Christmas cards millions of times over “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and good will to all men (or among those with whom he is pleased!)” Yet this message of peace only seems to last for Christmas at best. So has God forgotten his promise? No! His promise of peace will come to all the earth when Jesus returns to be not only the Saviour but the king of all the World.  

The Shepherds, stunned by the awesome display of God’s Angels lighting up the night sky and singing praise to God, managed to get themselves together and went to Bethlehem to see for themselves (Luke 2:15-20). In humility, they worshipped this infant born in such humble surroundings yet who was to be the saviour of the world.  On returning to their sheep they sang praises to God. I doubt their singing would have matched that of the angels but it was heartfelt and sincere driven by the conviction of knowing that God was true and had sent his only begotten son to the earth (John 3:16). What a transformation! The people of the earth are described in Isaiah 9:2 as “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light”. They were walking in darkness or being like sheep without a shepherd to guide them. Well now that Jesus “the good shepherd” (John 10:11) had come then he would lead his people just like a good shepherd leads his sheep. Light truly had come to the earth at last. 

James Thorpe