Home > Uncategorized > And They Were Amazed – Luke 2:8-18

And They Were Amazed – Luke 2:8-18

Do you realize that most of our mental images about Christmas come from medieval art and Christmas cards? Often showing three wise men coming to the Christ child just minutes after His birth. If you read the biblical account carefully, it could have been up to two years after Jesus was born before the Magi showed up. We don’t know how many wise men actually came. The biblical account does not give a number. We know it was more than one because the Bible talks about men – plural. The story in Matthew doesn’t tell us and the number three is not even mentioned in the text.

If we’re confused about the magi, then we may misinterpret the shepherds as well. The picture of shepherds in the field evokes a positive, pastoral image for us. It reminds us of Jesus’ association with the line of David. We have sentimentalized them so on our Christmas cards and art that they look like gentle folk waiting to go to a homecoming celebration. Why the shepherds? I want the angels to go to the Temple to tell the religious leaders what God was doing! They should have gone to the governor and let him know that something awesome was happening in Bethlehem! They should have gone to Herod and told him that God was doing a great thing in Bethlehem, and that the King of kings had been born! Instead of telling somebody important, the angles told a rag-tag bunch of shepherds. That’s not what we would have done. But, that is the way God wanted it. Perhaps there are three reasons;

I. He came because of them

Here we discover the heart of God and the meaning of the birth of this child. In this picture, we are reminded that Jesus came for people like the shepherds, not the religious elite, the politically savvy, or the rulers of the people. They are a metaphor for the kind of people Jesus came to save. People who were doing what they did every day and every night. People going through the routines of life. Isn’t that what the birth of Jesus is all about? It’s about God meeting us, not on high holy days, but on ordinary days, in ordinary places, in an extraordinary way. The birth of this child is about God coming to us in our everyday lives and saying to us, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news.” I think that’s why God sent the angels to the shepherds – to let us know that this child was for all people, even the most ordinary.

II. The shepherds in shock

Imagine the first reaction of the shepherds; they were scared to death! They understood the appearance of angels as an omen, as though God were bringing His wrath upon them. Yet the angels said, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy. Today a Savior is born!” With that, the heavens opened with glorious music. The heavenly chorus praised God and said, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people He favors!”. In the midst of an ordinary night, ordinary shepherds encountered an extraordinary God who met them when and where they least expected to be met.

III. Sometimes seeing is believing

After heavenly chorus offers praise, the shepherds had to see for themselves, so they ran off to Bethlehem to experience what the angels had told them. After seeing them, they reported the message about this child, and “all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them” (Luke 2:16-18). When God offers grace, the appropriate response is exuberant joy. Eventually, the whole world would celebrate the coming of this child, but for now, only the shepherds knew what had happened in Bethlehem. The result was the response that should arise from all God’s people: The shepherds returned to their flocks “glorifying and praising God” (v. 20).

Reading Luke’s account, are we filled with wonder? Are we expecting something miraculous? Do we expect the amazement to continue? We want the mystery of the moment to continue because we long for something amazing in our lives. Our routines are so predictable and harried, our schedules so frantic and programmed. Our days are so packed with stuff, I wonder if we allow ourselves time to live. Yet, as we hear angels singing and shepherds hurrying and Mary pondering, we feel we may just find a little time for wonder.

Pastor Rich


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