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Advent Devotional: The Shepherd's Joy!

Reading Luke 2:8-10

 

8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 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. 10 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. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

         14     “Glory to God in the highest,

                  and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

         15   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.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

 

Thoughts for meditation

 

Telling stories is a risky business.  We have to make sure that our timing works.  Is the person even ready to listen?  What will their response be?  Yet telling the story can be extremely powerful when we have a great story and the right audience.  You’ll know it by the response. 

 

The Story

We see all of these elements here. The birth of Jesus is the greatest story ever told. In verse 10 we see the set up for the story, “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.’”  The angels arrive in such splender that the audience of shepherds would naturally tremble in fear, but the angel calms them and says he is there with great news! The Angel continues, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!”

 

When we stop to think about our response to the statement, “I have good news,” we always scan our hearts for what would bring the most releif.  We need saving.  We know it.  We stuff it down and ignore it but what we are desperate for is saving.  The annouincement is that the one who came from heaven to earth came to rescue us! Joy comes through salvation!  A savior.  One who will rescue us.

 

 

 

The Audience

Why did he choose shepherds? When you send angels in such spectacular fasion, most audiences will listen – at least at first. God could have told the high preist, or religious leaders, or the wealthy.  But he didn’t.  He chose dispised, dirty, un-educated ragamuffins who had made all the wrong career choices and were now sitting in a field watching the stupidest animals on earth:  Shepherds. 

         Yet David, Israel’s greatest King, was a shepherd.  Jesus himself would later identify himself as the good shepherd. We see that these men had a connection with the idea of salvation because the were involved in it daily.  Rescuing wayward sheep, feeding them, caring for them.   And, when the time would come, preparing them for the sacrifice most of them were being raised for.  Certainly this setting is fitting for the announcement not only of the Christ, the savior, but the one who would be slain for our sins.

 

The Response

We see several responses to this news.  The angel is joined by a great multitude and they begin to sing praises,  “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!”

 

Early this wek many marveld at the tiny specks in the night sky that are Jupitor and Saturn.  Can you imagine what the shepherds saw and experienced in this chorus?

 

Then, when the greatest concert ever ende, the shepherds gathered themselves and obeyed. Having been told what they would find in the nearby town of Bethlahem they made the journy to find Mary, Joseph, and especially baby Jesus! 

 

We are also told of Mary’s response.  Luke gives us a glimpse into Mary’s heart in verse 19, “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”  I love this description.  She pondered it.  The gospel came to her from lowly shepherds!

 

And for the final response we see the shepherds response in verse 20,And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” This is in some ways my favorite response.  They came back.  They didn’t quit their jobs but most likely did their jobs even better.  Every sheep born from that night on would remind them of that sheeps final purpose, to be a sacrifice. 

 

How will you respond this season to this reality?