And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. (9) And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. (10) And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. (11) For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (12) And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. (13) And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, (14) Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.Luke 2:8-14
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.”
In this passage we are introduced to some shepherds. Shepherds in that day were not looked upon as noble. The profession was done by the unskilled and uneducated. These would be among the lowliest of those in society. It wasn’t forbidden to be a shepherd but doing what they were asked to do often made them ceremonially unclean and disobedient to certain parts of the law. These shepherds were in the field keeping watch over the sheep. They would often sleep outdoors overnight while each took their turn to keep watch. Many of the sheep that they were watching were likely to be used for sacrifice.
“(9) And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them,”
Having read this passage so many times and having seen so many depictions at Christmas of what this could have been like, I automatically think of the angel as up in the sky at a distance from the angels. Yet, it says here that the angel “came upon them”. He could have been very near to them. The proximity makes it clear that his sudden appearance made them scared. All of a sudden, a supernatural being was before them. The angel that appeared before this point was the angel Gabriel. This very well could have been Gabriel again, through the scripture does not say.
“and the glory of the Lord shone round about them”
As you study this expression “the glory of the Lord” in scripture, it is often associated with light. Here it says that the “glory of the Lord shone”. This is no small thing. God’s glory is the radiation of who He is. There are moments in the scripture where God’s presence and God’s glory were so powerful that it killed those who were exposed. God told Moses that he could not see Him in His full glory, but only let him see the aftereffects of His glory. When Moses came off of the mountain from that experience the scripture says that people could tell by his countenance.
“and they were sore afraid.”
This was a natural response in such a situation. I understand their response. Yet there was no need to be afraid. God was not coming in this moment to judge but was sending the angel with good news. We know this because of what they angel said to them.
“(10) And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy,”
Notice this pattern is the same pattern as before.
- Appearance of the Angel
- Fear from the recipient
- Comfort- “fear not”
- News- The Message from God
- Sign- What they would see that proved the message
Here came the comfort from the angel. “Fear not”. Get up guys. Don’t worry. You do not need to be afraid. I’ve got good tidings of great joy! The word here for “good tidings” is the word “euggelizo”. It is the same word we use when we talk about evangelism or an evangelist. Evangelize means to tell the good news. These shepherds do not have to be afraid because God is sending them a message that is good news. It would produce great joy, and it was for them and it was beyond them.
“which shall be to all people.”
The word for “all people” here is a general word meaning everyone. The word is “laos” and it is where we get the word laity. The idea is that every kind of person is included in this message. Certainly, it would have included the children of Israel, but it did not stop there. This good news was for everyone.
“(11) For unto you is born this day”
What an interesting phrase. I have three children. They were certainly born unto their mother and me. They are our kids. We had them in a sense “for us”. We brought them into the world and our effort as parents is really for them. But to say that a baby is born “unto you” to a bunch of shepherds who are not related and do not know this child is quite a statement. The good tidings of great joy were for “all people”, yet it was also specifically “unto you”. It was for these lowly shepherds in a field outside of this little town of Bethlehem. How was this baby born “unto you”? Well, notice the three titles given to this child at the end of this verse.
(11) For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
3 Titles of Jesus
“A Saviour“- This is the most profound statement in the whole narrative. Jesus (Jehovah is salvation) is born to save. Forgiveness of our sins will be possible. Hell can be avoided. We can go to heaven, because God has come. He has been made flesh so that He can save us from our sins.
“which is Christ“- The word Christ is the Greek word for the anointed one. It was the title describing Jesus as the Messiah. He can be our Savior because He is the messiah, anointed of God to do what He has been sent to do.
“the Lord“- Even though He was a baby in this human form, He is the authority in the universe. He was before all things and by him all things consist. He is the Lord! He is in charge. He is still God!
“(12) And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
The pattern of the angelic message continues. He has appeared. They were afraid. He comforted them and gave them this incredible message. Now the angel gives them a sign that what He is saying about this baby is correct. They would know which baby was come as Savior, anointed one, and Lord, by seeing this baby “swaddled in a manger”. The fact that he was in a manger would have distinguished Jesus from any other child in town that night.
“(13) And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, “
What an incredible sight this must have been to behold. It must have been something to see just one angel, and to experience some level of the glory of God. That would have been by far the most interesting thing to have ever happened to this small band of shepherds. Next, they experienced a “multitude of the heavenly host”. The word here for “host” is derived from a word that translates as armies. Think less “choir” (because they are saying, not singing), and think more “army”. What is their expression of praise?
“and saying, (14) Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
This is not an accidental, random expression of praise. This expresses the whole purpose for which God is doing his plan of redemption. He is doing it rightly for His own glory and His own praise. He is not sinfully arrogant or prideful. God deserves our utmost and highest praise. It is good for us to praise Him. Yet He is also doing this plan of redemption to bring about peace between Him and us. Peace and good will from God to us is only possible because there is a Savior. Our sins must be forgiven, because in our sin we are the enemies God. Our disobedience is a declaration of war against our maker. Yet God in His grace towards us initiated this plan of redemption.
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (9) Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. (10) For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (11) And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.Romans 5:8-11
Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (4) But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, (5) Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) (6) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (7) That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.Ephesians 2:3-7
The good news of great joy is for everyone, and it is specifically for you. God the Father loved us so much that He sent this Messiah, Savior and Lord to become flesh and dwell among us. He did this so that He would rightly get glory and so that we would have peace. The question for us is this, have we believed this good news? Are we being obedient to the Gospel?
What is your response to this incredible news?