20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
The greatest birth announcement of all time… the announcement that God’s people throughout the entirety of redemptive history have been waiting for, longing for, yearning for… the announcement that the promised Savior, the Christ, the Lord has finally entered this present evil age to bring peace and salvation to His people… THAT announcement delivered by an angelic messenger of God with the glory of the Lord penetrating the dark of night and backed up by a chorus of praise from the innumerable army of heaven was given to… shepherds? Yes… shepherds! – a lowly and despised group of people who were simply doing what shepherds do, keeping watch over their flocks by night.
Whenever I read this beloved passage that my dad read to my family every Christmas Eve of my life (in the King James Version no less!), I’ve always thought if I could go back in time to only one event in history this would be it. Creation would be pretty cool too, but this night was fulfillment night. To see and hear what they saw and heard in the way that they saw and heard it – it must have been amazing… simultaneous feelings of fear, awe, wonder, curiosity, and humility. “Who are we to receive such sacred news in such an overwhelmingly glorious way? The Savior, the Christ, the Lord is born? Now? Here? The salvation of the Lord is at hand?”
The angel said, “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” So the shepherds hurried to Bethlehem to see for themselves what the Lord had made known to them and there they saw the baby just as the angel described him. They couldn’t contain themselves; they told all those gathered there what had just happened and how it happened. All who heard it wondered; Mary treasured it; and the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God for all that they had seen and heard.
Father, on this Christmas Eve may the birth of Jesus, OUR Savior, OUR Christ, OUR Lord fill us with the same wonder; may we deeply treasure and ponder in our hearts the good news of great joy found in the gospel; and may we together as a church, as a family, as joint-heirs of grace glorify and praise you because Jesus has come to secure peace with you for lowly and despised sinners like us.
1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 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.10 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.11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.