“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.”
God chose to share this incredible announcement with lowly shepherds! As you read this devotion, do you find yourself feeling lowly or perhaps lonely? Are you ‘poor’ in the eyes of the world? If so, then you are a great candidate to experience God’s grace! Verse 10 states, “And the angel said to them (the shepherds), ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.’” The Greek word for the phrase “I bring you Good News” is euangelizō. From this word we get the word gospel. “Gospel” simply means “Good News.” Thus, the angel shared the gospel with these shepherds. This angel is God’s ambassador, sent from heaven, on a special mission—to announce the gospel to these shepherds. But note carefully: This Good News is for all the people, including all of us who are alive today and still able to hear this announcement. This incredible message has echoed throughout the world for the last twenty centuries via missionaries, preachers, and evangelists, and every time this Good News is declared, it demands a response.
Now what exactly is the gospel? Look at verse 11: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” All throughout the Old Testament, God had promised to send a Savior into the world to rescue us. As far back as Genesis 3, we learn of God’s plan. Genesis 3:15 states, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers: he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Jesus came from the offspring of a woman, the Virgin Mary, and He crushed the Serpent’s head by His death and resurrection. That was all part of God’s plan. Moreover, it was prophesied that the Savior would be born in Bethlehem. Micah 5:2 states, “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” I wonder if some Rabbis had previously taught these truths to the shepherds. Perhaps they hoped and prayed that the Savior’s coming would be during their lifetime.
The angel not only announced Good News, but also told them to look for a sign. Verse 12 states, “And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” Understand that God does not expect us to have blind faith. He gives us signs, evidence of both His presence and the truth of His word. All we have to do is follow the evidence which leads to the truth. God has revealed Himself to us in Creation. As a person comes to believe the evidence found in Creation, God gives more evidence, which increases understanding. He provides more light. God has revealed Himself to us even in our minds. Romans 2:15 states, “They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts while their conscience also bears witness.” Our consciences constantly inform us that there is a God in heaven. God has revealed Himself to us in His Word. His Word contains within itself evidence of its truthfulness through fulfilled prophecy. And finally, God has revealed Himself to us through His Son. Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection are evidence of the truthfulness of God’s Word. The empty tomb stands as the most credible sign that Jesus is who He claimed to be. All one has to do is follow the evidence. Anthony Flew, one of the world’s leading proponents of atheism, abandoned his disbelief in God as he observed the latest biological research. He said, “My whole life has been guided by the principle of Plato’s Socrates: Follow the evidence, wherever it leads.”
Shepherds were men of the world and were, therefore, not easily fooled. If they said they first saw angels and then the Messiah, you can believe them. Verses 13 and 14 state, “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.’” Do you want to have peace with God? Then you must first understand this truth—we were all born enemies of God (Romans 5:10) and under His wrath (John 3:36). However, God did not leave us in our helpless state. Instead, He provided a way for us to have peace with Him. Romans 5:1 states, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Jesus came into the world to offer peace with God. That peace comes through salvation, and salvation begins with hearing. In Romans 10:17, the apostle Paul writes, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Have you heard the word of Christ? The shepherds heard the word of Christ delivered by an angel. Hearing the Word is the first stage in God’s plan of salvation.