“That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly an angel . . “
Another night like all the rest…out on the hillside under the stars, a few miles outside of Jerusalem, where the outline of the Temple of God stood, the centerpiece of the city. The weather-worn old shepherds, warming their hands by their small fire, were spending another night watching over their flocks of sheep. . . like every night. They could see Jerusalem from their fields nestled between Jerusalem and the little village of Bethlehem, just five miles apart. Bethlehem was famous for being the city of David, where their most famous King David had been born.
These sheep were special. They needed the best shepherds because they needed the best care. These were the sheep destined for sacrifice in the Great Temple in Jerusalem. To qualify for sacrifice, they had to be in the best condition. . . as “perfect” as a sacrifice lamb could be. The vigilance of the shepherds was essential. It would be to their shame if a lamb was flawed in any way, and disqualified from being the sacrifice.
It was a night like any night, except for a one-of-kind, exceptionally bright “new” Star that none of the shepherds had ever seen before. They knew the sky well . . . it was their view every night. They had memorized as very small boys the “map” in the sky. It was essential to their survival and responsibilities as shepherds, and their vigilance with these top-quality, “perfect” lambs.
But this night, something occurred that had never, in all of history, taken place in that familiar sky. The sheep were safely down for the night. The “on-duty” shepherds were huddled around their small warming fires watching over their sheep, as they did every night. A normal night, except for that one “new star” that was directly above them. In the quiet, chatting together, an eye on the sheep and on the sky, it happened.
Suddenly, a brilliant Being appeared to them, with blinding radiance. The Angel spoke, reassuring the terrified shepherds that He was bringing the Greatest News ever sent from God.
“I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! The Savior – yes! The Messiah, the Lord, has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the City of David! This is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!” Luke 2:10-12
Suddenly, the entire sky lit up . . .filled with a light show never seen before nor since. The Armies of Heaven filled the entire sky, all singing a once-in-eternity Song to God:
“Glory to God in the Highest!
And on Earth, PEACE!!! Good Will toward Man!”
“Unto us a Child is born…a Son is given!” Luke 2:13-14
Then they were gone.
Those rugged, weather-worn shepherds were the first to see that tiny little Lamb of God in that humble manger, in a cave used for sheep. They knew, more deeply than most, the destiny of any “lamb of God” . . . a Temple sacrifice for sin. They could see the Temple’s outline on the high place of nearby Jerusalem. Simple, rugged shepherds responsible for all of the lambs raised for sacrifice, became the first to bow before that tiny Lamb of God, and to tell their world of the greatest News of all Time.