Table of Contents
In the stillness of the night, an Angel of the Lord appears to some shepherds, to people who’ve been a symbol of what God has always been doing in the world, keeping watch by night. And in this darkness, light had entered the world, and here was God, celebrating and declaring and proclaiming this light over the people.
And this angel of the Lord tells the shepherds, fear not, I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all people. Today, in the town of David, a savior has been born to you. He is the Messiah, the Lord. He is the Good Shepherd who keeps watch over those who keep watch of others by night. He will be the one who proclaims good news to the poor, healing for the broken-hearted, and freedom for the captive. Now go into town and find the baby wrapped in swaddling cloths laying in a manger. And when the angel of the Lord had told them this, suddenly a heavenly host of angels appeared out of nowhere, praising God, because the peace of God had arrived to light the way.
The shepherds amazed by all that they had seen, ran into town to find Mary and Joseph with the infant Messiah just as God had said. And when they had seen Jesus, they couldn’t help but go and tell everyone what they had seen, and all of the people were amazed. But Mary? She sat back quietly, thinking quietly in her heart about all that had happened.
Gabriel visiting her. Elizabeth's son leaping for joy in the womb. God had blessed her to be the mother of the messiah. Joseph was still by her side. And God had sent shepherds to receive news of the Messiah being born into the world. And like shepherds guarding little lambs at night, Mary was guarding her precious little boy, a little boy who would one day become the Good Shepherd that world so desperately needed.
Every story can be broken down into a few parts. The setting, where the story takes place and why it might be important. The characters and their emotions and thoughts invested in the story. A tension that needs resolved. A resolution that brings us through the tension, and a through line (aka main idea) that carries the story through from beginning to end.
The Setting Shepherds in a field tending their flock, invited to go and see the infant messiah.
- Shepherds - not social outcasts, but people trying to feed their families. People entrusted with a flock
- An Angel of the Lord
- Glory of the Lord
- The infant Messiah
- A heavenly host
- Mary, Joseph, and infant Jesus
- Mary who pondered all these things silently in her heart
- People that the shepherds shared this news with
The Tension A shepherd story woven all throughout scripture is hitting its turning point. Shepherds have always been on the frontlines receiving news of what God is doing in the world.
The Resolution God would tell the shepherds where to go find the infant messiah and in turn they would go exclaim to the world around them all they had seen.
The Through Line God was going to use shepherds to bring good news into the world.
Why has this story endured? This story is God's proclamation call that Good News had finally entered the world. Finally after exile, finally after silence, the Messiah had come to make things straight.
What is true for them then that is still true for us today? Like the shepherds, God invites us to experience the Glory of God through Messiah Jesus.
How does this story help us love God? God sent the Messiah in the world. A savior. Jesus. We love God because God has come to deliver us from the darkness.
How does this story help us love others? While the shepherds were not most likely outcasts as many have claimed, they were indeed probably poor. God's message of hope isn't reserved for the rich and elite. God's message of hope is for all (John 3:16). We love others by sharing in this Good News with all around us.