Luke 2: 8-20
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Many will hear this snippet of the greatest story ever told in the coming days. Preachers around the world will relay the Good News of the angels; Good News to bring joy to all the people – news that a saviour was born!
In our own nation, the recipients of this heralding will be sitting in pews, gathering around the community Christmas tree and opening cards with these precious words enclosed.
But then what? Will they leave the pew, turn their backs on the tree and throw down the card to look for Jesus? That’s basically what the shepherds did when they heard the Good News; they immediately went on a journey to go and look for Jesus.
Their looking was rewarded with seeing and finding, and as they saw and found, God spread the message of the angels to the people of Bethlehem via the shepherds – the message that the one whom many had been waiting for had arrived; the message that this dear baby in the manger was the messiah.
However glorious the moment on the hillside would have been, it wasn’t the hearing of the angel’s message that transformed the shepherds and put them on the quickest discipleship programme in history. No, it was what they did next; they set off on a journey to go and look for Jesus, and in looking they found Him.
So what about you? What happened when you heard the good news about Jesus? Were you in a hurry to look for him, like the shepherds were so long ago? Did you find him, like they did?
If you did; how fantastic – praise God!
But if you didn’t, you wouldn’t be the first person to have heard the preaching, to have sung the songs, and perhaps even, to have written holy verses in cards, without ever having really looked for Jesus. You wouldn’t be the first person, to become immersed in church life (even sign up for Christian advent reflections!) without ever actually encountering Jesus for yourself.
Perhaps this Christmas it’s time to change all that.
I’ll never forget my first Christmas as a born again believer. The nativity scene became so vivid to me; the sight of the manger just undid me every time I looked that way. Everything looked different, and the things which had seemed so colourful to me before, faded to black and white as the realisation of who the baby was, and why he mattered, dawned on every part of my being.
Don’t let another Christmas go by, without truly encountering that baby in the manger; Jesus – your saviour.
‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you’ (Jeremiah 29:13)
My hope for you is that you will, like the shepherds, receive the jaw dropping news of the angels once more, and that this good news will propel you to go on a journey of the heart, and of the scriptures, on which you really look for Jesus, and discover him to be your good news; your saviour.
A Salvation Prayer (if this is your day!):
Heavenly Father, I’ve sinned against you – I’ve lived in ways that don’t give you glory, and that stops today. Thank you that you died to take away every one of these sins, because you love me. Please forgive me. Fill me with your Holy Spirit, show me your ways, and help me as I live for you from this day forward. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
If you’ve prayed this prayer for the first time; HALLELUJAH! Tell someone else today – part of coming to faith is sharing your experience with others; taking the baton from the shepherds as it were, to share the good news. If you’d like to email me, I’d love to pray for you and perhaps connect you with someone who can help you along your discipleship journey.
A Good News Prayer (for the rest of you)
Heavenly Father, thank you Lord for this wonderful opportunity for your life altering arrival to be heralded in our communities this Christmas. May your Holy Spirit preside over every message given; whether in preaching, carolling, or the written words in Christmas cards. And may the Good News of the angels send every hearer on a journey to look for you until they find you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Have a fabulous day!