Luke 2:8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
The birth of the Lord Jesus Christ was a special event that changed the calendar of the world. The birth of the Lord Jesus Christ was not tacked on to some other existing religious event. It was a unique event that was separate from all other events of history. As we read in our text, it was a normal day in the history of humanity. The shepherds were out in the field abiding with their flocks. We are not given a date for this but we know from talking to people who live in Israel that the shepherds are not out in the fields at this time of the year.
The shepherds were dedicated people. They lived with their sheep. The took care of their sheep 24/7. Those sheep were important to the shepherds. We have a picture here of the “good shepherd”. Psalm 23 speaks of the Lord as “my shepherd”. The Lord knows how to provide for His sheep. He looks after them in every situation the sheep face. The sheep in spiritual terms are people who come to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.
Later in John 10 Jesus described Himself as the “good shepherd”. He declared that the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. He cares about them and wants them to do well.
In our text, the shepherds were keeping watch over their flock by night. As they were doing so, the angel of the Lord came upon them. They were not expecting anything unusual to happen that night. They were guarding and protecting those sheep from the possibility of a wolf coming to try to destroy and scatter the sheep, or from thieves who would want to take those sheep away from them. They did not expect what was about to happen. We read that when this angel appeared unto the shepherds, that the glory of the Lord shone round about them. We read that the shepherds were sore afraid of this event. They had never experienced anything like this before. They had never seen the glory of the Lord in this manner. I am sure we would have a similar response to such an event happening in our day.
The angel of the Lord did not come to a bunch of blaspheming shepherds. He came to some men who had some understanding of the true God and who were willing to hear what the angel would have to say.
We read in verse 10 that the angel wanted to assure the shepherds that they need not be afraid. What they were witnessing was unusual, but it was a good thing. The angel was bringing them good tidings of great joy. The message of the angel was good news. It was news that would bring great joy to these shepherds. The angel announced that this good news was not just for the shepherds. It was of an event that would be to all people. All people are blessed in the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ came to this earth as a babe in a manger. Jesus Christ came to save sinners. All people need a Saviour. Sadly, most do not accept that fact.
In verse 11 we read that the angel announced that this day a Saviour was born in the city of David. This Saviour is Christ the Lord. It is interesting to note that the angel told these shepherds that this Saviour was born unto them. This Saviour Who is the only Saviour that God would ever provide for mankind came to the common man. He is the Saviour of mankind, but He was first announced to the common people. He was not first announced to the king. We know that when the king did hear about this birth, he wanted to kill this Saviour, who is also a king. He was jealous of this new arrival.
As we read in verse 12, this Saviour would be found not in a king’s palace, but in a manger. The Saviour of mankind came as a lowly child with no outward evidence of being anything special. It was the angel that announced His coming. The angel made it known that this was a special birth. In verse 13 we see that a multitude of the heavenly host now joined in and they were praising God. The birth of the Lord Jesus Christ is an event that brought glory to God. It exalted Him. It turned the attention of the shepherds toward heaven. We read that this event was so special that the shepherds were willing to leave those sheep, who were their livelihood, and they were willing to go unto Bethlehem to see for themselves this thing which is come to pass.
The shepherds did not shrug off this announcement. It was an unusual announcement, but it was something that the shepherds were willing to pursue further. They were not going to wait until morning to find some replacement for their duties. They were going to leave those sheep right then and there and they were going to go and seek out this child.
In verse 14 we read that the angels gave glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men. When God is glorified, the earth is affected. The God of glory is the only One Who can provide peace on earth. We do not have that peace in our country today. We do not see this peace in any country in the world. Those who know the true God can know this peace if they walk humbly with the Lord. God’s people do not need to be in turmoil. The shepherds were sore afraid when the angel of the Lord first appeared to them. However, the angel told them not to be afraid. He told them why they should not be afraid. The shepherds were simple folk and they listened to what the angel told them. They saw the heavenly host appear and yet they were not afraid of that either. There was a peace that God brought to them as they heard this unusual announcement. It was a spectacular announcement. It was an announcement that made a huge impact on these shepherds.
As we noted already, they left those sheep right there and they headed into Bethlehem to see this thing that had come to pass. They knew this announcement was from the Lord. They knew they were blessed in being given this announcement.
The birth of Jesus Christ is a very special event in the history of the world. It was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. It was unique. It would never happen again and it had never happened before. The effects of this special birth would impact humanity in a special way. It was and is a great blessing to mankind. The shepherds were so blessed by this announcement. They would soon be in the presence of this Saviour. They would see His humble beginnings on this earth. They had already been told that this was not just any ordinary child. This was Christ the Lord. This was the second person of the Godhead who at that time appeared in human form for a specific purpose. He came as the Saviour of the world. He would not become the Saviour at some special moment. He was the Saviour of mankind. His coming would have a great impact on all of mankind. For most it would be a threat to their way of life. To a few it would be a blessed opportunity to change their lives. As we will see, those shepherds would never be the same again. They were privileged to be the first to know of this special event. We are not told how much they knew or understood of the Old Testament prophecies regarding Jesus’ first coming. We know that they were not scoffers like the Pharisees. They were willing to act in a good way toward the news that had been announced to them.
We need to be like those shepherds. We need to be in awe of this special gift that God provided for mankind. We need to receive the message with the same positive actions of these shepherds. We need to find this Saviour and we need to respond with hope and joy to the message of His appearing. Those who accept this message will be changed. Their priorities will be changed. They will see the pursuit of God’s truth as a priority for them. They will be willing to leave the material pursuits of life in favour of finding and knowing the Saviour which is Christ the Lord.