After the announcement of Jesus’ birth by the angels, the shepherds said to one another,
“Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. (Luke 2:15-20)
- They believed. “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened.” The shepherds believed what the angels said. Now, some would say, “anyone would believe something like this if a whole bunch of angels appeared out of nowhere and told them.” But I would argue that is not true at all. Even Zechariah, a priest in the temple, didn’t believe the angel who announced that he was going to have a son. (Luke 1:20) The human heart is hard. God has to open our eyes to spiritual truth in order for us to see it.
- We know that it was the Lord who opened their eyes because they said, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” They weren’t convinced because they saw angels. They were convinced because they knew that the word they heard from the angels was really from the Lord. They knew this because the Lord gave them spiritual eyes to understand this truth.
- They immediately responded to what they heard. “And they went with haste…” Apparently, they even left their sheep in the field, which shepherds are never supposed to do.
- After they saw Jesus for themselves, they couldn’t keep quiet about what the Lord had told them about him. “they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.” They went immediately to the stable, they saw Mary, Joseph and Jesus just as the angels had described, and they let everyone know that the angels had told them that this child was the promised Savior.
- The response of those who the shepherds told – “And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.” This word “wondered” is also used in Luke 1:63, as the response of everyone to Zechariah writing on a tablet “his name is John.” The Greek word here means, “to wonder; to admire:–admire, have in admiration, marvel, wonder. Other places where Luke uses this Greek word it has been translated as “marveled” (Luke 2:33, 4:22, 7:9, 8:25). So, it appears they didn’t wonder with skepticism, but more with admiration.
- The response of Mary – “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” I think you would agree, Mary had a lot to think about regarding this event – what it would mean for Jesus as he was growing up, what it was going to mean for the world, what it was going to mean for her and Joseph. While the shepherds were off telling everyone and praising God, Mary was in quiet reflection and meditation with the Lord. Both responses are important.
- The response of the shepherds when they returned to their fields – they couldn’t leave their sheep forever, so they returned to work, “glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” After their encounter with Jesus, they went back to work as shepherds, but also as worshippers.
As the Lord reveals more of Himself to you this season, it is my hope that you will believe Him, tell others, and respond to him with wonder, with meditation, and with praise!