December 25 I Sunday
“When the angels had left them and gone into heaven...[The shepherds] hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this Child...” —Luke 2:15-17
In the Christmas story, we encounter shepherds who heard the good news, this pronouncement from heaven, and responded to what they heard. Now, this is interesting, because in Old Testament Hebrew, there is no Hebrew word for obey or obedience. The Hebrew school of thought had no word for that; instead, they use words like “listen, hear, keep and do.” Hence, to truly listen or to truly hear an instruction was to obey or respond to what was heard; one did not hear if one did not respond with one’s feet.
Luke 2:15-18 tells us, “When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the Baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this Child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.” The shepherds went and sought out Jesus, and when they encountered and experienced Him, they were led to worship. Out of the abundance of this joy, they started to share it with anyone who would listen. The shepherds heard and they responded, according to the Hebrew school of thought.
Charles Price once said, “The good news only becomes good news when our will is made to respond to what our ears have heard, to what the mind has understood.” Do we hear the good news that is being spoken to us today? Because let us admit it: God speaks, but Satan also speaks, our own sinful desires speak and the world around us is shouting all the time.
Right now, people all over the world are celebrating Christmas. They cut down a tree, put it in their home, put some lights on it, gather with friends and family, go shopping in the malls and listen to countless carols and songs about the arrival of Jesus. They are immersed in the message of Christmas, but are they longing for the joy that Christmas can give them? Do they hear the good news that is truly being offered? Are they truly hearing according to the Hebrew school of thought?
If we truly hear the message of Christmas, we find our joy in Him. May we abide in Christ daily, not just once or twice a year when we show up at church on Christmas and Easter. But as we make Him the centre of our life, we will experience the same joy that the shepherds found when they responded to what they heard.
Prayer: Dear God, I hear the message of Christmas loud and clear. Please help me to abide in You daily, making You the centre of my life. Thank You, Lord.