And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with 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”. Luke 2:9-10
Let’s focus our attention on the messengers and their message delivered to the shepherds of the Christmas story. Can you imagine the scene before the angel of the Lord suddenly appeared? Just another quiet and routine night of familiar sights and sounds that surely would have included a soft breeze, animal sounds and a sky filled with the same stars, planets and perhaps moon barely noticed anymore. If we could listen in to the low voices of a couple of those shepherds, I wonder if we might hear a reference to those lucky and “important” people back in town. Did they ask themselves, “Why can’t I be someone important?”? You and I live in a country where we can be anything we want if we set our minds to it. Not so for those shepherds. Once a shepherd, always a shepherd. Little did they know what a strategic part they would play in God’s “big picture”!
There were many occasions over the years at work when my hectic day was interrupted as I would be handed a handwritten note saying, “Call your wife ASAP”. Of course, a tsunami of thoughts would rush through my mind until I was able to follow those instructions. Cell phones are a relatively new phenomenon, you know. There was one memorable conversation which confirmed my need for apprehension. Connie’s voice let me know right away, she was not a happy camper. To make a long story short, I had failed to inspect the tires on her car for wear. And now she was on the side of the road, unable to finish her morning drive to her day of teaching music at Danville-Neel Elementary school because of a very flat and worn out tire. You can be sure I got the full extent of the “messages” this entailed.
Do you remember a time when you know God spoke to you? For most of us, I suspect, He has used a messenger such as a pastor, friend or parent to deliver a very personal and timely message. I remember clearly as a 9-year-old boy knowing the gospel message coming from our pastor one Sunday morning was for me, personally. And, I too was filled with fear.
Who in your life has God used as His messenger(s) to get your spiritual attention?
For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2: 11
It seems logical to me those shepherds had some previous knowledge concerning a promised Messiah. Sure, there was so much they did not understand at that moment. But, I have to believe some things began to “click” in their minds and in their hearts. Surely God had used His prophetic Word to plant seeds which, unknown to them, would prepare them for this moment.
Now I can appreciate godly parents and all those teachers in Vacation Bible School, Sunday School and even at my elementary school divinely used to plant seeds in my heart preparing me to receive the highest and most profound message I would ever hear.
How has God planted seeds in your past to prepare you for His message? How have you responded?
In PART III we will see as Luke continues to paint the picture for us through the divinely inspired Word, the shepherds responded immediately in faith to the message given to them by those heavenly messengers.