Friday, March 30, 2018

The First Evangelists

"When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them" (Luke 2:17–18).

We saw yesterday how God announced the birth of His Lamb to shepherds in the fields around Bethlehem. These shepherds did not dismiss this news. They did not debate it. They were excited! We read that when the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about” (Luke 2:15).

We read that they “hurried off” to the city and began to search. It probably took them a while to track down a baby wrapped in rags and lying in a manger. Our Christmas pictures show the infant Jesus lying in a manger of wood in a stable, but the Bible does not explicitly tell us this. In fact, the earliest traditions of the church say that the stables of Bethlehem were a cave and that the manger would be a niche in the wall. So it is probably at such a place that the shepherds finally found Him whom they sought so diligently.

These shepherds went out and told everyone they met about their experience. They told them about the angel of the Lord and his words to them. They told them about the birth of the Lamb of God, the Savior, the Christ, the Lord of history. And we read that those who heard it were astounded at the news. The shepherds also praised God. “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told” (Luke 2:20).

How can we summarize this event? The Word of God came to the shepherds, and the worship of God was revealed to them as the angels sang God’s praises. They received God’s Word as truth, and immediately acted upon it. They sought out Jesus Christ and made His acquaintance. They went out and told other people about it. And they worshiped God with prayer and song because of His Word to them.

How would you have responded in their place? Today and this weekend, meditate on the shepherds’ response to the Good News. Consider how you can maintain or recapture a similar vitality about the truth of this Good News in your life.