Over the past week I have been thinking of the encounter of the shepherds and the angels. Have you ever been in such a dark place that you can hardly see your hand in front of your face. I have a couple of times. Once, a few years ago, our family went to the Davis mountains in west Texas. One of the nights we went up to the top of the mountain at Davis Mountain State Park after dinner. I wanted our kids to really see the stars at night. At the top of the mountain, it was so dark and the sky so clear, you could just see with your naked eye a comet that happen to be passing by earth at the time. Beside that, it was so dark, that my wife decided to put the kids back in their car seats because she was worried they were going to wander off the side of the mountain.
Another time was one a hunting trip with a friend of mine. We had finished dinner and were out driving on the property where we were hunting and we got the truck struck in a field. My friend’s dad was with us so he walked off to get a tractor to pull the truck out. But it was do dark, I wondered how he was going to find his way, but he did, and a few minutes later the darkness was lit up from the lights of the tractor.
Imagine being a shepherd, the lowliest of lowly, working the night shift, even lowlier. I imagine they had the job, because no one else wanted that job but they really needed a job. So here are these shepherds, like Mary, doing what they would normally be doing dy after day, and all of a sudden this angel, as Luke tells us, shows up out of no where and they were frightened, which I can’t really blame them. But the angel precedes to tell them don’t be afraid for I bring you good news of great joy. God, is his incredible and infinite wisdom, decides that the shepherds of all people, the lowliest of low, should be the first to hear of Jesus’s birth. And best of all, its for all the people, not just the rich, popular or well to do, but for everyone to hear. Then to top that, God sends a huge, heavenly army which is praising God. The shepherds were so excited to hear this good news that they hurried off to go see the baby.
Like the angel Gabriel, I imagine this had to be an incredible sight ad to try and explain it to someone else would be near impossible. To be in complete darkness and all of a sudden have the night sky lit up. We all walk or have walked in spiritual darkness and Jesus is the only one who can light up that darkness. The cool thing is that the message is for all people, janitors, big corporate CEOs, the people you get your coffee from at the coffee shop, garbage men, government officials, all walks of life. I was reading Jeremiah this morning and in chapter 5 he says,
20“Announce this to the descendants of Jacob and proclaim it in Judah: 21Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear: 22Should you not fear me?” declares the Lord. “Should you not tremble in my presence? I made the sand a boundary for the sea, an everlasting barrier it cannot cross.
30“A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: 31The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?
I Jeremiah’s day, Israel had quit following God and were chasing after other idols. The world at the time of Jesus’s birth was looking for a different savior, but I’m sure the shepherds trembled at God’s messengers. But Jesus came in the simplest form of life, a baby, and brought light to a dark place. Now, we have Jesus available for all people, in our spiritually dark places and He can light up our night sky. If we follow Jesus, we have hope and a future an there is no end and we don’t have to question what we would do in the end.