“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you: He is Christ the Lord.’” Luke 2:8-11
The good news of great joy was not only for “all the people,” it was also to be incredibly personal, for the angel said: “a Savior has been born to you.” What did this mean to these shepherds?
At that time all Israel was waiting for Messiah because the prophet Daniel had given a timetable of when Messiah should appear on the earth. There is little doubt that the words of the angel would bring to the minds of Jewish shepherds the prophecy Isaiah gave about the Messiah: “For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders.” (Isaiah 9:6) They possibly felt that the joy would be the Messiah defeating Rome, and Israel becoming the governmental head of the nations again.
Yet this Child was born for a different reason than setting up an earthly kingdom at that time, and the joy would be much more than having a good leader running the government.
The fields on the outskirts of Bethlehem were used to raise the lambs used for sacrifices in the temple. The shepherds’ job was to watch over lambs whose sacrifice would cover over Israel’s sins one year at a time. Little did they know that the angel was calling them to watch over the Lamb who would take away the sins of the whole world; and that all the lambs they had watched over until that time pointed to this One baby, who was Christ the Lord.
Before Messiah rules on this earth, He needed to be a Savior that would die for the sins of all the people, including these shepherds. The great joy would be in the forgiveness of their sins which would allow them to have a personal relationship with God.
I hope you have made Christmas personal by receiving Christ’s forgiveness and by embracing a relationship with Him. God wants each of us to hear and believe the good news that brings great joy!