Angels, Shepherds & Good Tidings of Great Joy

By Harrison Woodard

That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! The Savior — yes, the Messiah, the Lord — has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David! And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!”Luke 2:8-12 <NLT>

Based on Luke 2:1-20

During the reign of the Roman Emperor Augustus, a decree was issued that required the entire empire to be counted. Being a descendent of King David, Joseph left Nazareth and headed to Bethlehem to be counted. Mary, who was pregnant, made the journey with him.

When they arrived in Bethlehem, it was time for Mary to give birth. The village was overcrowded with people and there were no rooms available. The only place they could find to stay for the night was a stable. So Mary gave birth to Jesus, wrapped him in cloth and laid him in a manger.

Out in the surrounding hills there were shepherds who were guarding their sheep. Suddenly, an angel appeared among them and the glory of the Lord shone all around. This awesome sight was very frightening.

But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to give you some really good news for all mankind. Tonight in Bethlehem, the Savior, who is the Messiah, has been born. And this is how you will know Him. You will find a baby wrapped in cloth and lying in a manger.”

In the sky the angel was joined by a massive choir of angels who were praising God:

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all people He favors!”

The angels returned to heaven leaving the shepherds alone in the field.

“Let’s go to Bethlehem and see what God has done for us,” said the shepherds.

They ran to the village and found Mary, Joseph, and Jesus lying in a manger just as the angel had promised. Kneeling around the baby they told Mary and Joseph all that the angel had said. This was very comforting to Mary who would always remember this moment and treasure their words.

After confirming all that the angel had told them, the shepherds returned to their flocks, praising God for all they had seen. Along the way, they shared their story and everyone who heard it was amazed.

 

Some Things To Think About

There are some commentators that point out the humble surroundings of the birthplace and assume Jesus’ parents were poor. It is true that a stable is not the most luxurious birthplace, but the reason for Mary and Joseph being there was that there were no rooms available in Bethlehem. Being an industrious carpenter and a righteous man, Joseph was certainly living under God’s Blessing. Jesus was born in humble circumstances but he was definitely not humiliated. He had an army of angels celebrating his birth. Wise men brought expensive gifts that would later fund the family’s stay in Egypt. When there was danger, God sent an angel that warned them to leave. We make a mistake when we think of Jesus living in poverty. God is well able to provide abundantly all our needs just like he did at Jesus’ birth and throughout his life.

It seems appropriate that the angels announced the birth to shepherds. Jesus was known as the Lamb of God, Good Shepherd, and the Shepherd of His People. Who better than shepherds to hear the news first and announce it to the world? (Psalm 23, Psalm 95:6-7, Micah 5:2-5, Matthew 2:5-6, John 1:29-36, John 10:1-30)

There are some common factors among all the players in the birth of Jesus story. We are told that Elizabeth, Zecharias and Joseph were righteous. Mary was a faithful virgin. The Holy Spirit revealed the identity of Jesus to Simeon and Anna in the Temple (Luke 2). The wise men came seeking the King of the Jews to worship him. All these had a special visitation or revelation of what was happening. I have wondered if also these shepherds, just like David many years before in the same area, had spent their endless hours in fellowship with their Heavenly Father. They may have even heard the prophecies surrounding the birth of John the Baptist a few months earlier and were expecting the Savior any day. The key point is that everyone who seeks Jesus with all their heart will most definitely find him. And the joy of that discovery is well worth it.

In John 10, Jesus says that anyone who sneaks over the wall into the sheepfold rather than going through the gate is a robber and a thief. The shepherd enters through the gate. Jesus was making the point that the devil entered illegally, but Jesus, having been born of a woman, had entered legally into the earth and was the true shepherd. And his sheep (Believers) would hear his voice. That is the wonderful truth of the Nativity story. God sent his Son, born of a woman by the Holy Spirit, to be our Savior and shepherd.

After the angels announced the good news to the shepherds, they immediately departed, confirming everything the angel had told them. They became doers of the Word. And they continued by sharing what they heard with Mary, Joseph and everyone they met. God is with us! That is some pretty good news to share.

Faith Building Exercise

Faith comes by continually hearing God’s Word. When you confess (speak) God’s Word out loud you are planting God’s incorruptible seed in your heart (spirit). In time, God’s Word will take root in your spirit (heart) and produce a plentiful harvest of all God’s blessings and promises in your life.

Confess these out loud every day until you believe them in your spirit. They will build your faith. Look up these verses and read them as they appear in your Bible. You can always trust God’s Word because He cannot lie.

 

The Lord is my shepherd; I lack nothing.
(Psalm 23:1)

The angel of the Lord encamps around me. I seek the Lord and lack no good thing.
(Psalm 34:7-10)

I worship and bow down before the Lord my maker. I am a sheep of his pasture and He is my shepherd.
(Psalm 95:6-7)

I am pure in heart and I see God.
(Matthew 5:8)

I ask and it is given to me. I seek and I find. I knock and it is opened to me.
(Matthew 7:8)

I follow the Good Shepherd. He calls me by name. I know His voice and do not follow the voice of a stranger
(John 10:3-5)

Jesus is the good shepherd. He knows me and I know him.
(John 10:14)

The Holy Spirit is in me. I have God’s power and ability inside to witness to the world.
(Acts 1:8)

My faith pleases God. I believe that He exists and He rewards me because I earnestly seek him.
(Hebrews 11:6)

I am always ready to share the good news with others.
(1 Peter 3:15)

 

 

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