“And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 20And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. 21And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.”
(Luke 2:15-21; Lectionary Text for the Day)
Such an amazing Royal Herald of Angels the Baby Jesus had at His coming! All the ages before Christ (B.C.) were shrouded in darkness, but after Christ (A.D.) a new Light shown upon those who believed. We are reminded of the gentle words of Solomon: “My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. 11For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; 12The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.” (Song of Solomon 2:10-12)
The momentous proclamation came in the verses just preceding today’s text. It was directed to the poor shepherds – not the Royal Palace in Jerusalem or the corrupt Jewish leaders. From that moment until today, the world has seen a marvelous change wherever Light of our Lord shines in the hearts of the people.
It is fitting that the circumcision occur on the date we call the beginning of a New Year. Our Lord satisfied all the requirements of the Law of Moses, and, later, instituted a new sign of the covenant – Baptism. His circumcision actually represented the conclusion of that sign of covenant relations with the Father, and His baptism signified the continuation of that covenant to all people. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29) His birth and circumcision represent a New Day for all of faith. The ages of the Law and Prophets of the past were sealed in the circumcision of the Lord; and the ages future were sealed at His baptism – a sacrament for all of faith to demonstrate that grace imparted by the grace and mercy of God by faith.
There are some particularly noteworthy observations to be made in the text regarding the response of the shepherds, the hearers, and of Mary at the Gospel proclamation made by the Angels.
- “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass” The shepherds resolved to go immediately and see the things revealed to them by the Lord. We can learn to follow up on all truth revealed to us, as well, by the Lord in His Word.
- “And they came with haste.” Such a precious event will not allow for delay. They came with haste. Why do we tarry in our walk? As Elijah queried the people, “How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.” (1 Kings 18:21)
- “And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.” Once we have received such a marvelous salvation, why keep the matter silent? It would be impossible to conceal our winning a lottery jackpot of 10 million dollars. It would be made known to all who knew us, and many to whom we were strangers. But our eternal salvation is worth far more than all the combined treasures of the world. We must proclaim to all – through our words, through our actions, and through our every thought – the great blessings we have received.
- “And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.” The authority imparted by faith will have a profound impact on those with which we share. Our sincere testimonies will be believed.
- “And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.” Those who have come into the knowledge of faith in Christ will not observe a single moment of thankfulness, but an eternity thereof.
- “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” To a loving mother, every event in the life of her child is recorded in the treasure chamber of the mother’s heart. Though Mary could scarcely understand the gravity of meaning of these events, she would keep them in her heart forever.
Should we not glorify God as the shepherds, and ponder these things in our heart forever, as well?