Christmas: Being Good Messengers
“When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying one to another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem, and see this [wonderful] thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the Baby as He lay in the manger. And when they had seen this, they made known what had been told them about this Child, and all who heard it were astounded and wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these things, giving careful thought to them and pondering them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as it had been told them.” (Luke 2: 15-20, AMP)
When people think “shepherds” at Christmas, they think, “keeping watch over their flocks by night” and angels singing, “Glory to God in the Highest and on Earth, peace, and goodwill towards men.”
Those are the verses that are focused on, from the Charlie Brown Christmas special to Sunday school lessons. But the shepherds’ story still continues five verses after the most popular passage. You see, after the angels went back up into heaven, the shepherds looked at each other and decided that they
had to head into Bethlehem. They had to see the baby that the angels were singing about.
And that part is easy to relate to. Think about it: if you came face to face with an entire choir of angels, wouldn’t you want to go tell the whole world about that encounter? Wouldn’t you want to go see the child that heaven burst wide open for?
What I love about this part of the story is this: the angels didn’t appear to kings or Pharisees. They didn’t appear to anyone of significant importance or lofty education. They appeared to a handful of humble, ordinary working people– they shared their news with average men who pulled the night shift watching their sheep.
And when the shepherds were sharing what happened to them, they didn’t boast or brag that heaven deemed them worthy messengers. They didn’t shrug off their humility to reach for higher platforms or places of importance. They didn’t want to use their incredible testimony as an opportunity to display their spiritualness. Instead, they received the message from the angels: that baby Jesus, a child long-awaited since the beginning of time, was finally born. The Savior had finally come onto the scene, and lowly shepherds were chosen to be the carriers of this news.
And the coolest part of this story is that they went, they saw Jesus, they told everyone they could about the amazing things they saw, and then they went back to their fields. They returned to their sheep.
You see, sometimes, the Lord speaks to us, and calls us to get up and do something. Sometimes, He calls us into remote nations to tell people about Jesus. For some, He gives them incredible platforms to share the things He reveals to them in music and in spoken word. But we can’t forget that the purpose of our task is to be a messenger. We have to be very careful that our heart doesn’t turn away from desiring God, in favor of desiring attention from the things of God.
You see, the goal is obvious, but so easily forgotten. It’s not for us to become famous, or to be viewed as this overly-spiritual or superior vessel that the Lord has chosen to be higher than the rest of the church body. We shouldn’t strive for Jesus because we want something impressive to say to the church-at-large. The goal should be to enjoy Christ and to spend time with Him because it is healthy for a creation to spend time with their Creator.
We cannot seek the revelation for the sake of being the one with the revelation. Instead, we should be like the shepherds– patiently doing the work we’ve been given– because that work is also important– even if it’s not glamorous. And you know what? Even after that crazy, awesome night, the shepherds returned to their work. They didn’t look to drag out their moment.
It should be the same for us. We should want to share Christ because it is good to share Him, not because it will make us look good to the ones we share with. And once the opportunity to share is over, we shouldn’t be too proud to return to our incomplete work and the purpose laid out from before our messenger-moment.
There’s no shame in returning back to the basics, friend. So don’t strive to remain the messenger. You don’t have to be the next big thing. You just have to be the humble, obedient, and beautiful creation that you are. God sees you just the way you are, whether you’re an ordinary shepherd or the witness to a great move of His mighty hand.
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