In the previous three posts we looked at how the birth of Jesus resounds with fulfilled prophecy. This points to a God that acts over, within and through time to bring his will to pass. We also considered the Shepherd’s reaction to the Angel’s appearance and realized that this is the standard reaction when a sinful creature gets in contact with the glory of a righteous creator. However, this righteous God, instead of exacting justice on the shepherds, offers them a savior that would save them from their, and our, sins. So we learned that this good news is for all who realize that they need a savior and that God, through sending his Son endeavors to bring about peace for all those with whom he is well pleased.
This brings us to today’s post. If Jesus was born to bring us peace with God and wellness in our lives, how should we respond to this good news of great joy? Lets turn back to the text to see the example the shepherds set in their response:
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. (Luke 2:15-20).
Going to find Jesus:
So what did the shepherds do about the good news they received? Here’s what they did not do…They did not go into all the world and tell them what the angel said to them. No. the first thing they did was go “With haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger” (v 15). Their instinct was not to tell other people first. Their instinct was to go see for themselves.
We see the wise men doing the same thing after they had seen “His star” and came to “worship him” (Matt 2:2). When they saw the announcement of Jesus’ birth they immediately went to find him. This is what we ought to do as well and it applies to those of us who have been Christians for a while as well as anyone who is contemplating becoming a christian or who has only recently become a christian. When you consider the good news of the revelation of Jesus Christ your response should be to seek Jesus first.
Now, this might seem self evident but believe me it doesn’t always reflect in the way we live. Often when we get a new revelation of God our response is to tell others first. Some of us do this sincerely because it is what we see others doing or simply because this is what we have been taught to do at our churches. Yet there are others of us who convince ourselves that we are motivated by love and that “love shares” and that’s why we are sharing the news, the truth is that we often times do it out of pride or hypocrisy. Sometimes we might share because we want, even at a subconscious level, to boast about the revelation that God has given us. We want people to think we are “deep” or hyper spiritual. Other times we share because sharing is easier than applying it to our own lives. So instead of practicing what we preach we simply preach and convince ourselves that, “At least i’m doing something” or “It’s a process”.
I attended a church where the focus was sharing instead of of application first and sharing second. So being a young Christian I was excited to to grow and be obedient to the leaders that God had position in my life. I however would skip the application part and found myself becoming spiritually stagnant. So while sharing truth is good, sharing applied truth is better. These days however I often find myself being both prideful and a hypocrite, but I realize that while these excuses I offer for not living a life that corresponds to the revelations I have received may soothe my conscious for a while, it doesn’t appease God. You see friend, when God gives you a revelation it is first for you and then for others. We have to draw near to Jesus as the shepherds and wise men did so that we may see him as he is because while sanctification may be a process, obedience is a choice.
They made known:
It is only after the shepherds saw Jesus for themselves that they made known the revelation that the Angel had given them and all who heard “wondered at what the shepherds told them” (V. 18). This is a good example to follow. After believing the good news, the shepherds responded, by going to find Jesus and only upon finding him did they share their revelation. We know from experience that a testimony soaked in personal application often has more power than one that is soaked in theory. We see this in the actions of the wise men as well who, upon seeing Jesus, worshiped him by offering him gifts in the form of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Glorifying God for what they had heard and seen:
The third thing we see is the shepherds returning home and glorifying God for all they had heard and seen “as it had been told them”. So not only did they go and find Jesus, share the revelation with those who were there but it didn’t stop there. They continued praising God even when they returned home. This is the nature of the gospel. It permeates one’s entire life. Encountering it is not a once of event but a life defining reality.
Allow me to draw a parallel between the events we have just considered and the life of the Christian and the Christian community.
First, as individuals we will always have daily encounters with God where he will make things known to us and we are to, faithfully, respond to these revelations by seeking the glorification of God in all that we do (Col 3:23, 1Cor. 10:31). So we are to apply these truths by seeking Jesus in everything.
Secondly, we are then to meet with other believers where we encounter the fullness of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23, John 1:16). When we meet with Other believers we share what God has shared with us and we present our gifts to Jesus–Embodied by the assembled believers (1Cor 12)–in the form of both spiritual as well as natural gifts and possessions (Acts 2:42-47, 1Cor. 14:26-40, Heb.10:24-25).
Thirdly, having been built up by the things we hear and see in the community of believers we continue living lives that praise and glorify God day to day.
This is the model for the Christian life.
Now, to conclude, I hope that our four part journey has encouraged and helped even just one of you to know God more intimately, love him more passionately and serve him more faithfully. Until next time I pray that we would have relationships with God that is birthed from a personal encounter with Jesus instead of just hearing about him from other people so that we may confidently echo Job (42:5) in saying:
“I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you”