“The Shepherd’s Visit”
December 27, 2016
“The Shepherd’s Visit”
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“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” (Luke 2:15,16).
Christ Whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.
This year my biggest gift is a compound miter saw. I am already putting it to use as a I build railing for our backyard deck. It’s a nifty tool! During our Lord’s working years prior to when He began His ministry (Mark 6:3) I think He would have enjoyed using a tool like this!
But any gift received this Christmas or all other previous Christmases, regardless of its beauty, size, extravagance or even the sacrifice one made to get you the best gift possible, does not even begin to compare with the greatest gift of God giving His Son, which our daily text describes as “this thing”. The reason we can’t even make a comparison is because Jesus is a spiritual, Divine Being, the gift of salvation to mankind. No material treasure can fill the spiritual void within our hearts, though the majority of people spend their entire lives trying to satisfy their spiritual need with material stuff. Only heaven’s treasure, Jesus Christ, sent down to dwell among us can meet the greatest need of every human.
“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.'” Earlier this month our pastor visited the Holy Land and shared that, as he looked at the hills around Bethlehem, it occurred to him that these were the very hills the shepherds came from for the first visit. The stunning angelic visit they had just experienced prompted a desire to explore. What a great example of spiritual hunger.
“This thing” – these two bland, non-descriptive words in the text have long intrigued me. What a description! It probably indicates the marvel of the shepherds in seeking to express what they were about to witness. Today when we don’t know or can’t mentally recall the name for something we may say “whatchamacallit” or “thingamajig”. (BTW, both of these words are in the dictionary!)
However “this thing” designated the first human title of the first Christmas and the very first Christmas gift. I suppose, after their encounter with the angel and then the angelic chorus, the shepherds were at a loss for words and had trouble processing the magnitude of what they had just heard and were about to see. The shepherds, surely in a state of wonderment and perplexity, call the blessed event that would impact every generation afterwards for all eternity, “this thing”. Thus the very first human designation for Christmas is “this thing”! *²
The shepherds were blessed to receive this unexpected announcement from extraordinary beings, yet they could not fully picture in their minds just what to expect or the right words to describe this historic event. God did not require the shepherds to be statesmen and thus they could not eloquently describe this incredible moment in history.
“And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger” Today let us thank God for “this thing” which the shepherds went to see. The holy Son of God came as a baby, wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. That’s the redeeming message on which we must focus and it is the greatest thing! Some are hesitant to witness to others about Christ for fear that their message might not be delivered as eloquently as a studied preacher or gifted speaker. Yes, the words we speak are important but the lives we live may have more meaning when we share of Christ’s redeeming work in the hearts of His people.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
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Stephen & Brooksyne
*² Virtually all standard versions use the two words “this thing” in this text. See here.
“The Shepherd’s Song” Video Hearts Of Saints
“Angels We Have Heard On High” Video Laura Story
We both recall a simple chorus we sang early in our Christian journey titled “The Greatest Thing” Video Mark Pendergrass This song expresses our priorities as they should be.
“Preacher Revolutionizes Evangelical Thought With ‘Jesus Is The Greatest Gift Of All’ Christmas Sermon” Another bit of satire from the folks at the Babylon Bee.