The Good News
One night long ago, an angel, overcome with great excitement, whooshed down into a huddle of shepherds in the fields outside Bethlehem.
He looked into the eyes of these tired, raggedy men, and his face glowed with warmth. The shepherds stared at the glowing angel with knees knocking and teeth chattering. Looking at them with burning but gentle eyes, the angel grinned and said, “Ah, you don’t need to be afraid! I have really good news. In Bethlehem, there is a baby that was born tonight. But it isn’t just any baby. It’s Him! The One that God promised to Adam and Eve, to Abraham, to David. The Rescuer that God promised is here! He is God’s gift to you, to everyone! Hurry, go see Him! Look for a baby in a manger, wrapped up in swaddling cloths!” The shepherds looked at each other in surprise and then shock as they found themselves surrounded by a choir of angels shouting in song, “Glory to God in the highest!” Then, just as suddenly, the voices were silent. The angels were gone. All was quiet. The shepherds glanced at each other, smiles spreading across their faces. They threw down their staffs, left their sheep, and went sprinting through the streets of the town, searching for God’s gift. They came to an old stable. Inside, wrapped up like a gift, was their King. Christmas had come! God was with them!
While most people were inside their homes snuggled up with their families in soft blankets, those shepherds had been outside, shivering in the cold. Their sheep couldn’t be left alone or they would wander off, fall in a ditch, or be snatched away as a wolf’s supper, so the shepherds stayed with their sheep, softly stroking their heads and speaking in gentle tones. These smelly, simple shepherds were not special. They weren’t invited to celebrations. They never received special gifts from anyone. They sat out among their herds, forgotten and ignored, until this night. God had not forgotten the shepherds on the hill. The gift that He had always wanted to give to the world was finally here, and God invited these shepherds to celebrate His newborn Son, His most special gift.
Did you know that in the Bible, God calls us “sheep” and He calls Jesus the “Great Shepherd”? We were the lost sheep that wandered off from God’s care. We wandered off thinking we knew better, that we knew where the best water and the best grass to lay in was. Instead of finding what was good, we fell into the ditch and were attacked by enemies. Then Jesus, the Great Shepherd, came looking for us, the lost sheep that He loved so much. Jesus is God’s special gift to those who are in need of a Shepherd. He invites everyone who feels alone and forgotten, broken, and smelly to come to Him. Jesus is the gift that God always wanted to give to His people. He is the reason to celebrate Christmas every single day. Jesus is with us always!
Sometimes we see people who don’t look special in our eyes. But how do you think they look in God’s eyes? How should we treat people God thinks are special?
How does it feel to know that Jesus is with you wherever you go?
This Advent devotional resource was produced by The Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, TX. The original resource can be found here.