In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
During Advent, the candle is called the Candle of Joy or the Shepherd’s Candle. As you read this passage of GOD’s Word, you can see why.
The Shepherds were a big part of the story in Luke. We think of them in rather glorified terms, but they were hardly fancy people. These were not the upper crust of society, not by a long shot. We hear so much about shepherds in the Bible including David, the man who became King of Israel, that we think of them as being people with much higher favor than they probably had!
I’m quite sure that people didn’t inhale too deeply when they were nearby. They were a scrufty group! I’m sure they didn’t have very good social skills. They were used to being out in the fields with sheep!
The fact that they were chosen to receive the message of Jesus’ birth early on? it was one more indication that Jesus cared for those who are poor, downtrodden and not accepted in polite society easily.
Did they sit on the news from the angels and thank them politely? Of course not! They dragged their people and at least some of their sheep into the city to find Jesus!
This joyful news of Jesus, the Messiah’s birth had come to them. They had to find Him! They, as a people, had been waiting for centuries to hear that Jesus had been born! Now it had actually happened. Amazing! Wonderful! Surreal! This announcement needed to be shared.
Has the busy-ness of this season snuffed out your joy?
Are you so jaded by the stories of Jesus’ birth that it no longer touches you? Read it again, maybe in a modern version.
Take some time to think about what it must have been like for the Shepherds to hear that news from the angels.
Express that joy in prayer, either written or spoken, as you remember Jesus’ birth and how it must have felt for the shepherds to hear about it for the first time.