Christmas Eve Open Forum – December 24, 2010
For unto us a child is born; unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder.—Isaiah 9:6
The account of the announcement of the birth of Jesus to the shepherds is one of the most hauntingly beautiful accounts ever written. The shepherds near Bethlehem were keeping watch over their flock by night. The night was dark and peaceful. Sheep-herding is a lonely occupation and a strenuous one. Grazing sheep range far and wide, and need constant watching lest they stray. Being defenseless creatures, they must be watched over by the shepherds, lest lions, bears, or wolves attack them while they sleep. These shepherds, although humble men, were necessarily rough and tough men. They were almost constantly isolated; unused to the stir and excitement of city life. The account says they were “abiding in the field.” This was their home. Their roof was the vault of heaven. They lived under the stars. There was a sameness and monotony in their lives. Every day was the same. Day in and day out, in silence, broken only by the plaintive cries of the sheep, the rustle of the wind in the grass, and the occasional distant howl of the wolf. Nothing exciting ever happened. That is, not until that night.
Suddenly they saw the most glorious sight that human eyes ever beheld!—”the glory of the LORD shone round about them!” This was no ordinary glory. This was the glory of Jehovah God himself! There is no greater glory.
We do not know the exact form or dimension this glory took; but it was a most magnificent sight! Is it any wonder that “they were sore afraid?” Then came the reassuring voice of the angel of the Lord: “Fear not, for behold, I being you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people; for unto you is born, this day, in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10, 11). We may think we may have witnessed something wonderful when we attended a great symphony concert or a grand opera performance, but these pale into miserable insignificance when compared with what followed the angels’ announcement that night: “A multitude of the heavenly host praising God!” We sometimes refer to the best music we know as “heavenly music.” This was real heavenly music! Real angelic voices that were exquisitely delightful to the human ear. That is what the entranced shepherds heard; shepherds to whom “nothing exciting ever happened!”
Why was all this wasted on those simple shepherds? Why was not so glorious an announcement made to the great religious leaders of the day?—to the chief priests, Pharisees, or scribes? Because this was a fine demonstration of God’s established principle: “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6). These humble shepherds were willing and enthusiastic couriers of the Good News. They did not waste a moment to visit the child. They said, “Let us now go, even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass; which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger” (Luke 2:15, 16).