Night had fallen in the fields just outside Bethlehem as a group of shepherds were watching their flock of sheep. Two thousand years ago, Bethlehem was an insignificant little town, but it did have an interesting history. Israel’s greatest king, King David, was from Bethlehem, so it was sometimes called “the city of David.”
All of a sudden the darkness around these shepherds was suddenly changed into the brightest of light. A magnificent angel stood right in front of them, and the glory of the Lord was shining all around them. The shepherds were absolutely terrified. Then the angel spoke, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall 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 the baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
As far as the shepherds could see, the sky was filled with thousands and thousands of angels praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!” Some of the shepherds might have remembered that one of the Old Testament prophets, Micah, had written that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. That prophecy given seven centuries ago was now coming true.
Right away the shepherds decided to go to Bethlehem, and investigate things for themselves. Bethlehem was bustling that night and the inn was packed out. Eventually the shepherds came to a stable, and saw a little baby boy lying in a manger, which would’ve been used as a feeding trough for animals. His tiny little limbs were wrapped in swaddling cloths just as the angel had told them. The shepherds explained to the baby’s mother, Mary, all that happened on the fields outside Bethlehem, and what the angel said.
Then the shepherds returned to their fields praising God for all that they had heard and seen. I am sure the shepherds wondered why the angels that night had appeared to lowly shepherds like them. Why had the announcement of the Messiah’s birth not come to the priests, rulers or dignitaries?
The wonder of the Christmas message is that the good news of a great joy is for all people. Everyone, from the highest to the lowest, from the richest to the poorest, needs to know and can know personally the wonderful Savior of the world. His name is “Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” The little baby born in the stable of Bethlehem is the Son of God who dies for the sins of all—rich or poor, educated or uneducated, religious or irreligious. He died and rose again for our salvation.
This Christmas season, experience the good news of great joy. Open your heart and your life to Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away all of our sins.