Imagine, if you will, that you are a shepherd watching over your sheep on a hillside in ancient Judea, near the town of Bethlehem. All is peaceful and quiet except for the occasional bleating of a sheep. Suddenly, without warning…
The silence is broken by a BOOM, BOOM, BANG! Fireworks light up the night sky!!!
Well, that isn’t quite what happened on the night Jesus was born. If anything, a multitude of angels from heaven, all appearing at once, would have been even MORE startling… and that’s exactly what the shepherds saw. They were terrified!
It’s no wonder, then, that the first words spoken by the angel to the shepherds were “Fear not.” But let’s pick up the story at the beginning, as told in the Gospel According to Luke, chapter two:
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
(And this taxing was first made when Quirinius was governor of Syria.)
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men.
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
So there you have it… the greatest birth announcement of all time. And the One whose birth was announced was in fact so significant, that we base our calendar on the time of His birth! And why not? He came to bring salvation to all those who put their faith and trust in Him!
Special thanks to Don Hochmuth,
whose sermon of November 5, 2000
inspired the fireworks idea for this page.