Read the Scriptures: Luke 2:8-20
“ 8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, 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.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”
Devotional: One would expect that the birth of King Jesus would be filled with fanfare and opulence. But God chose no pretense in Jesus’ arrival upon the earth. Instead, God chose to identify in the humblest way with those who are made in His image. Jesus’ birth is marked with simplicity.
But as humble as the setting is, Jesus’ birth is accompanied by the attention of the heavenly host. The shepherds, who were socially looked down upon for being ceremonially unclean (due to their profession) were the ones to whom God first sent the gospel. The shepherds are the privileged ones to share in this unique moment in history.
Jesus’ birth is more than a cosmic event~ it is the arrival of Divine activity into the stream of humanity. One angel appeared to the shepherds first, which Luke does not identify by name, perhaps to focus on the message he delivered. This sudden appearance of an angel, plus the manifestation of God’s glory frightened the shepherds. The angel reassured the shepherds that his appearance was for rejoicing! This was a significant night upon the earth. The angel delivered the message of “good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (vs 10). The two books that Luke wrote (Luke & Acts) display the ministry of Jesus, which is good news of great joy that is available for all the people (not just for the nation of Israel).
The one angel, then appearance of the great company of heavenly host (vs13) present the commentary of heaven on the birth of Christ. They identify the Child and reflect heavens' excitement that this Child has come to do God's work. The multitude of the heavenly host descended from on high to honor the new-born Prince of peace, to give his parents the fullest conviction of his glory and to teach the shepherds, who were about to be the first proclaimers of the Gospel, what to think and what to speak of him, who, while he appeared as a helpless infant, was the object of worship to the angels of God.
The shepherds hurried off to Bethlehem to witness the event the angels told them. And the shepherds found out that the angel’s words were true, that events had happened just as they had been told. After the shepherds saw Jesus, they spread the word as evangelists (sharing the good news of great joy). The response of those who heard their testimony were in amazement at what they had heard.
The shepherds return to their flocks breaking out in praise to God for all they experienced. What an appropriate response at God’s mighty works.
1) Discuss~ What does it mean to be amazed? What are some of the things that amaze you most about the Christmas story.
2) Ask each person to share some things that he/she finds amazing.
3) Write a psalm of praise (2 or 3 sentences) or create a drawing that expresses praise to the Lord.