And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great 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. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
Like yesterday’s devotional, imagine you’re out in a dark field with your other shepherd buddies. Unwinding, probably talking about the stress of the day, when out of nowhere you’re face to face with a heavenly being. I would imagine any of us would be shaking in our boots! I am sure the shepherds felt very small in the presence of the glory before them. The funny thing is, I’ve always thought about this passage in that way. “Man I would cower away like a baby.” But in reviewing this scripture, maybe there is something else to be seen.
Perhaps the fear didn’t come from the spectacle that was in front of them. It could have come from feeling unworthy, lost, and ashamed. And that’s where this scripture becomes so real. That’s us! When holy light pierces the darkness and comes into our lives it brings our depravity to light. We feel unworthy, we are filled with fear and shame. Which is why the first words spoken to the shepherds from the angel hits us like a ton of bricks.
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”
In such an overwhelming, frightening moment they hear words of hope. News of great joy not just for the rich and powerful, but for all the people. And this can be viewed on a grander scale. In a time of such darkness and fear, Hope came, a Savior came. The Creator of heaven and earth came wrapped in flesh to dwell among men to save the highest of royalty and the dirtiest of shepherds.
We’ve heard this Bible story so many times, and it can start feeling like that, just a story. But then God reminds us: This is real! These shepherds were real men, their fear was real, the good news the angel came to proclaim was real, and their joy was real. This joy is real!
So this Christmas let’s not passively read the story, but let’s grasp that this good news the angel brought, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord,” would become more real than ever - causing us to truly live in the joy of His salvation.
God, we thank You that Your Word is true, that the Christmas story is more than a fairy tale. We thank You that in this time of year we are able to reflect on an event that gives us every reason to overcome fear. You are the true reason for our joy and our peace!