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.” So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them. ~Luke 2:15-20
Can you imagine what it must have been like to be one of the shepherds who first received the announcement of the good news of Christ’s birth? You are standing there looking out for the sheep when suddenly a bright light appears and an angel tells you that the long awaited Messiah that you read about in Scripture has been born. The One that the prophet Isaiah said would come and be Immanuel, God with us, has arrived and is lying in a manger at this very moment (Isaiah 7:14). Luke gives us a picture of their response to this wonderful news in his gospel.
The first thing we notice about the shepherds after hearing the word about the Savior’s birth is their excitement. As soon as the angels depart back into heaven, they begin saying to themselves Let us go now as far as Bethlehem and see this word that had happened which the Lord has made known to us. They could not wait to seek out the newborn Christ. The group decides to go now and Luke describes them as going in a hurry to find the special Child. The impression is given that they left promptly after the angels. They could not wait to meet Jesus.
We also see the wonder that Christ’s birth brings. After arriving and beholding the infant Jesus, they relate the message of the angels that was given to them. We are told then that all who heard wondered concerning the things spoken by the shepherds to them (v. 18). The Greek word used here to indicate the response means wonder, marvel, be astonished. This serves as a common response to Jesus. Later Mary and Joseph are amazed at what Simeon says concerning their special Child (Luke 2:33). Those in the synagogue were amazed at Jesus’ words (4:22). The disciples were amazed at His calming of the winds and the waves (8:25). The crowds stood amazed at His exorcisms (9:43; 11:14). The scribes and Pharisees found themselves amazed at His answer to their tricky question (20:26). Peter marveled at the sight of the empty tomb (24:12) and the disciples could not believe because of their joy and amazement at viewing Jesus after His resurrection (24:41). Christ should always produce in us such amazement. Mary herself treasures what has been told about Christ, holding fast to it in her heart. We would do well to continually treasure Christ in our own hearts and constantly be thinking about Him.
Notice how the shepherds leave. They go back glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen just as had been told them (v. 20). Their encounter of Christ leads to worship. They give God glory for the Savior He has given and the work that He accomplishes through Him. Such a response of excitement, wonder, and worship we witness of the shepherds to Christ’s birth should be our response to Jesus today. We should excitedly come to Him, wonder at the majesty of Who He is, and glorify and praise God in His name on account of Him. As John Calvin points out, “If the cradle of Christ had such an effect upon them [the shepherds], as to make them rise from the stable and the manger to heaven, how much more powerful ought the death and resurrection of Christ to be in raising us to God?” We often talk about the wonder of Christmas, lets make sure that we never lose the wonder of Christ, regardless of the day of the year that it is.
Love in Christ,
Soli Deo Gloria!