Exciting phrases, easy acronyms, and memorable lists formed from dense works of systematic theology can be helpful for the everyday Christian. While these reductions of God’s Word and His nature help us understand general frameworks, they are unable to help us understand everything the Bible teaches. It is one thing...
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and 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 among those with whom he is pleased!”
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
There are three words in these verses that describe how people responded to the good news of the birth of the Savior. They are all good, and I hope that all of them will be true of you on this Christmas Day.
All who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. (Luke 2:18)
That’s a great place to begin. No doubt people were rushing through their relentless lives then as we are now. But here are the shepherds, and they say, “A Savior has been born.” And when people heard it they wondered.
The people stopped. They thought. They wondered, What if that were true? What if the God of heaven has come to earth? Could it be that God is actually reaching out in love and mercy towards me?
These shepherds are saying that a Savior has been born. They say it has been announced from heaven. If what they are saying is true, it would be the greatest thing that has ever happened in our world.
If you are new to the church or new to Christianity, I hope you will start here today. “Here I am among people who say there is good news of great joy and they say it is for me! What if that is true?”
Wondering is where you begin. But don’t stop there. Some people spend their whole lives wondering, but they never make any progress. That’s why our next word is so important.
Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. (Luke 2:19)
Mary treasured up all these things. She stored up all that had been revealed to her about Jesus. I’ve tried to picture this scene of the shepherds bearing witness to Mary of what they had seen and heard and what it must have meant to her.
The shepherds would have said, “An angel appeared to us. We saw the glory of the Lord and we were absolutely terrified! But the angel said to us, ‘Fear not.’ He said, ‘Today a Savior is born; he is Christ the Lord.’”
Mary treasured up all these things. She took them into her heart. Literally, she “put them all together.” Mary added up what was said to her by Gabriel, and then what was said by Elizabeth and now by the shepherds:
- The angel said of the child to be born, “He is the Son of God.”
- Elizabeth, speaking by the Holy Spirit, called him “her Lord.”
- The shepherds report that the one who is born to Mary is “the Savior.”
Mary puts these things together. She adds them up. She looks at the child in her arms: Son of God! Lord! Savior! One testimony is added to another, each one confirming and expanding what had been revealed before.
Mary treasured up these things, and she pondered them in her heart. She stored up all she had come to know about Jesus: He is the Son of God. He is the Lord. And he is the Savior. What would it mean for this child to be my Lord? What would it mean for him to be my Savior?
That’s how faith is born and that is how it is nurtured. You trace out the implications of what has been made known about Jesus.
If I have a Savior, that means I have hope. It means I can have peace. It means that my sins and failings are not the end. There is forgiveness for me. There is recue for me. There is hope for me in Jesus Christ.
If I have a Lord, that means I am not my own. I am not free to fritter my life away doing my own thing. I can’t say, “These are my teenage years, I’m going to do my own thing.” God has a purpose for my life, and I am accountable to him to fulfill it! There is purpose for me in Jesus Christ.
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. (Luke 2:20)
They had seen the glory of God. They had heard the good news of a Savior. Now they are praising and glorifying God. The night that began with lost sinners fearing God ended with saved sinners praising God. That is a remarkable transformation, and why did it happen? Because the Savior was sent into the world.