But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
(Luke 2:10–12, NIV)
Joseph and Mary travel a great distance for the census as Mary’s contractions increase. Upon their arrival in Bethlehem she goes into labor. Just in time Joseph finds a place of shelter. There is no room in the inn, so the back stable will have to do.
Meanwhile, the Lord prepares nearby shepherds as witnesses to the Savior’s birth. These simple herdsmen are familiar with sheep and stables, but they never imagine what would happen that starry night.
The midnight sky dims. The shepherds kindle a small fire, keeping watch over their flock. A veteran herder tells the story of fending off a wild beast. Wind-carried yelps echo in the distance. He laughs and slaps a wide-eyed sheepman on his back.
Suddenly, a flash of radiant light ruptures the darkness, momentarily blinding the shepherds. An angel of the Lord appears. The glory of the Lord shines around them. They are terrified!
“Do not be afraid,” the angel announces. “I bring you good news of great joy. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” There is a second burst of light as a great company of angels join in praising God. The shepherds flail like reeds in the wind.
Then the angels depart as quickly as they appeared. The shepherds search and find Mary, Joseph, and the baby, who is lying in a manger. The wonder and amazement in seeing the promised One soothes their fearful souls. They fall to their knees in adoration of their Good Shepherd who will love, protect, and save them from sin. As their fear turns to peace, joy fills their hearts. They can’t help but spread the good news of Immanuel’s birth.
This Christmas, like the shepherds, let us give over our fears, rest in His peace, and proclaim Christ to the nations.