An excerpt from my book, “Unconditional: Liberated by Love,” Chapter 9.
Imagine that you are a shepherd of old going through the daily grind of the dirty and typically boring routines of the job. Every day, you are out in the fields overseeing the sheep with the simple task of keeping them corralled together and watching for predators as they graze the grass. I think it would get pretty mundane. An occasional coyote might actually be a welcomed guest just to spice things up a bit. Entertainment would probably sink to such lows as inventing creative games like hopscotching around sheep pebbles.
This may be why David kept a slingshot and a harp in his man-purse to fool around with. He needed something to occupy his time. He probably got tired of censusing the sheep—a task so tranquilizing it could have knocked him out cold one too many times.
The shepherds outside of Nazareth must have been feeling the same way on the night the Savior was born. It was just another round of the same humdrum monotony. If you would ask them “What’s up?” they would probably just sigh, “Ahhh, same sheep, different day.” I picture them laying around a campfire, playing tunes while eating rancho beans like the cowboys in Blazing Saddles. They had no idea any headline news was breaking, because to them it was just another dull day in Paradise.
That is, until the moment an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared before them with the shekinah glory transfiguring the pitch-dark campsite into a glowing, radiant, ethereal ambiance. This frightened the shepherds probably more than when I used to sneak up behind Grandma while she was watching Frankenstein and yell, “BOO!” into her only functioning ear. She jumped out of her seat with a scream that scared me right back; and we all got drenched in a shower of Diet Coke and popcorn. These shepherds saw what they would have never expected for themselves and were immediately startled.
They were instantly aware of the holy presence of God surrounding them, an experience they only could imagine was reserved for the high priest once a year. They were unworthy of such an encounter and knew the consequences, thus even more reason for fear and trepidation.
But the angel proclaimed, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). This angel was informing these lowly men that they need not fear the presence of the Lord anymore. God’s terms were changing. Rather than wrath for bringing uncleanness into His presence, He was telling these dirty, unkempt men that they can relax. God was sending good news of great joy for all people, including them. It was time for the chapter of the fear of God’s wrath to be closed so the new chapter of God’s great joy and acceptance could be introduced.
Why was this shift taking place? Because the Savior of the world, the promised Messiah, was born, and a new era was dawning. Emmanuel was brought into our world. “God is with us!”
Now, mankind would discover that God was in a good mood, desiring great joy for all people. This was His good news.
As if that weren’t enough to blow their grids, their eyes then became opened to see even more. All of a sudden, an innumerous host from Heaven surrounded the messenger, filling the air. What had been a dark night sky became like the high-noon sunshine as all of these angels illumined the entire atmosphere around them. Their glowing garments permeated with the radiant residue of glory that protruded from being in the presence of the throne they had just come from. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased,” they praised in beautiful harmony (Luke 2:14). They were glorifying God as they proclaimed that He was at peace with men and actually pleased with them!
This was quite the shift of revelation for these ranchers. Now they had learned that the Christ was born, bringing great joy, peace, and pleasure from God to all people on the earth. God not only had bestowed peace upon broken hearts, He announced through His angels that He was at peace with mankind within His own heart. When the angels left to return to Heaven, these distressed men were glowing with joy and filled with new purpose. No longer afraid to stand in the presence of God, they went to worship in person the Son of God who was made manifest in flesh.
After a warm visit with the newborn King of Kings, they left glorifying and praising God for all they had seen and heard. These men were probably intimidated by people of higher stature than themselves prior to this night. But after an encounter with Jesus Christ, they became emboldened as the Lord’s first evangelists to proclaim His good news.
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