Focal Passage: Luke 2:1-15
These are the majestic words spoken to the lowly shepherds by an angel on the night Jesus was born. On that ordinary evening none of them were expecting to hear this extraordinary message, much less see the dark sky filled with the radiant light of countless angels hovering above. However, the greatest announcement in history had been given — God’s long promised Savior had arrived to bring salvation to the world!
Given that most shepherds in the first century were common laborers and not astute Old Testament theologians, the significance of this event probably didn’t register with them at first.
Even though they were told that a Savior had been born and they rushed to Bethlehem to “see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known” (Luke 2:15), one gets the sense that their haste was mixed with both excitement and confusion.
If we were able to eavesdrop on their conversations along the way, we might hear them asking, “What exactly is this angel talking about? Why are these heavenly beings singing out with such excitement and praise? How will a child be our Savior?” We often assume these shepherds were eagerly awaiting Jesus’ arrival, but like so many today they probably had more questions than answers.
Unfortunately, we are living in a generation that’s not only further removed from these events historically, but also spiritually. It would be foolish today to assume that the majority of people know the true meaning of Christmas. Of course, most everyone recognizes the annual date on the calendar, along with the seasonal festivities, meals, events, music and gift-giving, but relatively few understand the full significance of Jesus’ birth.
Like the seasonal classic, “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” more people in our culture than ever are asking Charlie’s famous question, “Is there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” And even for those of us who know the reason Jesus was born, we can be so distracted by all of the holiday traditions that we fail to consider the real purpose Christ entered the world.
Therefore, there are two important goals that we need to consider this Christmas season. First, we as believers must push everything else aside and focus our hearts on the “baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12).
The shepherds found a normal baby nestled in his mother’s arms, but unlike other newborns, this baby was God in human flesh, who arrived in the world to save us from our sins. Let us ponder the glory and majesty of the Incarnation this Advent season. But a second goal would be to help others understand the significance of what the shepherds found in the manger, how Jesus came to save them from their sins.
Just as the shepherds heard the angels and saw the bright lights above, leading them to discover the only Savior of the world, let’s also shine our lights and point people to a saving relationship with Jesus.
Merry Christmas! B&R