“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!” 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.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.”
The shepherds were truly changed upon encountering the Christ child! There was no way in the world that they could keep silent! This evening must have been a whirlwind for them. Here they are, minding their own business, tending their flocks at night. Then, an angel appears, frightening them and bringing wonderful news that the long-awaited Messiah has been born right here in Bethlehem. Next, a host of angels joins the first angel to sing a glorious praise medley to the Lord. After the angels depart, the shepherds converse with each other and decide to leave the sheep to go find this baby. Upon finding and worshipping Jesus, they run into town and make the news known to all. Because of their testimony, people are amazed at what has happened. At the end of the evening, they return home, glorifying and praising God for what they had seen. What a night!
Like the shepherds, are you changed from encountering Christ? Did your first encounter with Him change you from the inside out as He saved your soul? And each day that you meet with Him in your secret place, are you changed more and more? When you experience Him, are you compelled to share Him with others as the shepherds were? They could not keep silent. They praised the Lord in front of anyone who would listen. They were the first witnesses for Christ on that first Christmas night. All of the praise went directly to the Lord, for looking upon them with mercy and revealing the news to them – lowly shepherds!
As I think about the shepherds response to encountering Christ, I’m challenged to consider my own life. What is my response when I encounter Christ? Does each encounter with Him impact my soul and life and actions in this way? Do I intentionally make time alone with the Lord – free from distractions – so that I am available to hear from Him? Do I constantly have fresh encounters with Him, or am I living off of past experiences with Him? Am I compelled to share the Good News with others?
These verses come to mind when I think about how my life should look like the shepherds’ lives/responses that first Christmas night.
2 Corinthians 5:14-21
“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
This Christmas season, be humbled by the fact that YOU KNOW THE GREATEST NEWS OF ALL. JESUS. You live in a country where you can freely share this news with others. If God has saved you, then you have become an ambassador for Him. Your job is to implore others on behalf of Christ to be reconciled to God. Christ’s love should control you and compel you to share this life-saving news with the lost and dying people surrounding you. Don’t let the busyness of the season keep you from sharing what is most important – Jesus Christ. Don’t let your own agenda and comfort hinder you from being an effective and obedient ambassador for Him. He revealed Himself to you for a reason! Don’t keep silent! Be a shepherd this Christmas!