December 17 - The Shepherds & the Angels

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

December 17 - The Shepherds and the Angels - Luke 2:8-14

As I read various commentaries on this passage, I fell in love with it more and more. The first people that God chose to announce the birth of His Son to were shepherds. For six months out of the year, the shepherds took their flocks out to the fields and stayed there with them. Nights were temperate and they could allow the sheep to graze without worrying about the weather. They had probably built up huts or tents and several of them gathered to complete the night watch, ensuring the safety of the flocks around them.

The angel of the Lord appeared and the glory of the Lord shone round them. Do you realize what this is? This is the glory of the Lord that passed by Moses in Exodus 33:19-23. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai after meeting with God, his face was still radiant. (Exodus 34:29-34). This is the glory of the Lord that changed Jesus on the mountain at the Transfiguration (Luke 9:29-31). This is not only an angel showing up, but the Lord God Himself making this birth known to simple shepherds.

Notice in Luke 2:11 the angel does not say that a child has been born who will be a Savior. Though the words are only slightly different, the importance is immense. The Savior has been born! He is the Messiah. He is the Lord! All of these things were said so that we would know that there was no doubt about who this child was. Not who he would be, but who he was ... right at that moment in time.

And then, the angel told them to look for a child in a manger. Would the shepherds have been comfortable entering the home of a well-to-do community leader? Oh, of course not. What assurance God gave them that evening. The Savior of the nation of Israel was born. The Messiah had come. And He was completely accessible to everyone.

In Luke 2:13 we find a great company of the heavenly host joining the angel as they begin to praise God. This word translated as host actually means army. This is an army that is designed for warfare. They have come as one to declare peace on earth. That is amazing. God's design is for eternal peace.

The passage ends with the words 'peace to men on whom his favor rests.' (Luke 2:14) We can do nothing about this. We can't earn it or inherit it ... this peace comes because of the mercy of the Lord God. As He chooses, so shall it be.

God made it very clear, from the night of Jesus' birth, that He was reaching out for a relationship with everyone on earth. Simple shepherds, living in fields, watching their flocks are called to witness the most glorious birth every known to mankind. The gift has been opened, the Savior is born.