Imagine a young couple displaced in a strange town, alone in a crude stable awaiting the birth of their child – a first for them both. Labor begins, and Joseph frowns at his calloused, incapable hands. Hands which are capable for woodwork to be sure, but sufficient to deliver his baby? Concerned and ill-suited for such a task, he prepares to start out into the night to begin a frantic search for a midwife. Mary’s scream pierces the night, a scream of pain and fear. Stopping Joseph in his tracks, he returns to her side as nature begins to move faster than his own uncertainty.
Their child is delivered into this chilly night, and now it is just the three of them alone marveling that this tiny, ordinary looking baby is none other than the Son of God. God becoming one of us Words must have failed them as they look at the One who has now drawn them closer together than they have ever been, eclipsing the speculations, fears, and doubts about the incomprehensible means by which this child came to be.
As Joseph begins to collect his thoughts, his mind is in awe of what the arrival of this special child would potentially mean to them . . . and for them. His gaze is diverted towards an unusually bright star and its position seemingly holding still above the stall in which they find shelter. Mary sleeps, exhausted from her labor as Joseph contemplates their future on an otherwise dark night. The stillness of the night is broken by a rustling sound nearby. Joseph immediately stands at the ready when the silence is broken, this time by the baby’s wail, and suddenly what follows is the sound of muffled voices and many feet running towards them. Joseph prepares himself to protect his family and steps into the night. With a voice he tries to keep from trembling, he shouts to the unseen intruders “What do you want?”
The voices quiet until one trembling man steps cautiously forward to say “We have come to see the Savior, Christ the Lord!” His appearance is ragged and worn, as are his clothes, and there is no mistaking the pungent smell of sheep that surrounds him. Shyly, others like him fall in behind and echo the same excited appeal. The “spokesman” addresses Joseph with halting words, as if what he is about to share he struggles to believe himself. “We are shepherds. You probably won’t believe us. I know what people say about shepherds, how we are despised and that our word is of no account. Yet, as God is my judge, what I tell you is true!” The others nod nervously in agreement. Then, looking squarely at Joseph, he asks “You do believe in angels, don’t you?”
“We were settling down for the night when at once a bright light shone and a terrifying angel appeared to us. He said “Don’t be afraid.” Can you imagine NOT being afraid? All I could think of was my sins, and me standing in the presence of this holy being. Then the angel said to me, “Today in the city of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord. You will find the baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” So sir, we had to come and see for ourselves. It was late and dark, but we knew where to look and we searched every barn and stable in the city until we heard the baby cry and now we are here. May
we see this child, the Christ?”
The shepherds stared at this small child, yearning in their hearts to touch him but they knew they dare not. Instead, they knelt and bowed their heads in humble worship. Though he looks as ordinary as any newborn, they knew they were experiencing a look into the Holy, staring into the very face of God! Having seen this child, their Savior, joyfully they ran to spread the word about what they had been told and all that heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
Years later, we too have heard what these shepherds had been told. This child who grew to be the Savior has been born to us as well. Though the news we proclaim may not be believed or gratefully received by all, will we, with the excitement and boldness of these first shepherds, retell the story once more of One who came from heaven to earth to rescue us from our sin and restore us to our Creator? Think About It.