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." So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 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.
We are all familiar with the encounter between the angels and the shepherds on the night Jesus was born. We have heard that story since we were kids. But can you imagine how it might have gone if it had been a bunch of average American men instead of those shepherds? How do you think they might have responded? "Hey, I got a wife and kids at home I gotta take care of; I can't be just walking off the job to go hunt for some baby. I enjoyed the light and music show, but I gotta get back to work." Or maybe: "I don't know anything about this 'savior of the world' stuff. Hey, there are some goat herders over on the other side of the mountain, how about trying your routine out on them?"
Most people today - and probably in Jesus' day as well - are focused on doing what they have to do to get along. They want to do what is expected. They want to be good dads and good husbands. They want to be respected by their wives. The thing that makes the shepherds in our story exceptional is that they were able to temporarily set aside those good things in favor of something great. Let's review what they did: They heard the message sent by God, they recognized its importance, they left their mundane jobs for a time and they found the Savior. Tending sheep is important, but finding Christ is essential, it's the most important thing in life.
Lesson #1 - Don't let doing what's good keep you from receiving what's great!
According to our Scripture text, after they had found the Savior they began to share their amazing testimony with other people. The shepherds may have been ordinary men, but their message was extraordinary and compelling. Notice that they told what they themselves had seen and heard and experienced. That's what witnessing is. It isn't theology. It isn't debate. It isn't even preaching. It is simply telling the truth about your experience with God. Interestingly, when the shepherds did it they found a receptive audience - the people they told were amazed and blessed. Friends, Christmas is a great time to tell others about Jesus. So don't let the opportunity pass you by.
Lesson #2 - God blesses us so that we can bless others; God speaks to us so that we can tell others.
“Go tell it on the mountain, 'Jesus Christ is born.'”