Luke 2 vs 8-20. Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest
And on earth peace to men on
whom his favour rests.”
Only Luke’s gospel tells us the story of the angels and the shepherds. We know that Jesus was to be born in the City of David which is in Bethlehem. We also know he was to be placed in a feeding trough called a manger, something shepherds would be used to. But these shepherds knew exactly the place to come to in order to find him and it appears that they were the only ones that night who reported seeing and hearing angels. After they visited the child and told their story they are never heard of again. The people standing around who heard them and “were amazed at what the shepherds said” (v 8), also disappeared. But Mary pondered these things in her heart (v 19).
And no wonder. Mary had been visited by an angel at her conception but no further angelic visitations took place to her. She had no instructions as to what preparations and arrangements would be suitable for the arrival of the Son of God! If you are a woman, put yourself in her shoes. How concerned you would be! How would you know you were doing everything right as it ought to be?
If she was at home in Nazareth she could make preparations for the birth with family and friends to help her. But to have to take a journey at her stage of pregnancy was very difficult. Imagine their distress when there were no rooms available in the inn. Now she had to give birth in some make-shift quarters, semi-public. And where could she put the child when he was born? And He was God’s Son! How could she put God’s Son into a manger?
And then the shepherds arrived with their story. And when asked how they knew where to come they replied that an angel of the Lord had told them that the Saviour, Christ the Lord, had been born this very night in the City of David.
Now Mary and Joseph had not intended to come to Bethlehem but Augustus the Roman emperor compelled them to come to David’s City yet behind Augustus there was a Divine plan unfolding.
But surely in the congested town of Bethlehem there were several other babies born that night? How did the shepherds know that Mary’s baby was the right one? The answer was simple. The angel had given them a sign. They would find the baby lying in, of all places, a manger.
Here were these humble shepherds, not only worshipping the baby but bringing untold comfort and confirmation to Mary’s heart that all was well. The Son of God was in higher hands than hers.
I am indebted to David Gooding for his excellent bible commentary on Luke’s Gospel for the above observations.
And we are all indebted to the love of God who gave us a unique Saviour, an uncommon King step-by-step along the way, authenticated Him as the One who was to come from Heaven for us!
What can anybody say? Read Luke 2:14 and join in the angels’ praise.