December 16, 2020
Rachel and I are very thankful for you and your willingness to share in prayer for our prodigals and for revival. “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full, in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.” Helen Lemmel wrote these lovely words in 1922.
Have you seen the beauty of Jesus? The shepherds, who were guarding their flocks around Bethlehem on the night Jesus was born, did. First-century shepherds were not educated or refined. In fact, society regarded them as nobodies (Christianity Today). Randy Alcorn says, “In Christ’s day, shepherds stood on the bottom rung of the Palestinian social ladder. They shared the same unenviable status as tax collectors and dung sweepers.” (Shepherd's Status). They lived in the wild. According to several sources, they were rough, unclean, and sometimes even dangerous.
They may not have heard of the decree of Caesar Augustus or the journey of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem, but the shepherds were the ones who heard the angelic proclamation of the birth of the Messiah. And they saw Him! They saw the baby Jesus, the Creator and Upholder of the universe, the Savior of the world. What a privilege to behold Him!
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased (Lk. 2:8-14).
In the darkness of the night, the glory of the Lord in all its radiance and splendor surrounded them. As they fell in terror, the angel said, “Don’t be afraid.” There is a time to be afraid and there is a time to rejoice, and this was a time to rejoice! I wonder if they joined the host of heaven in proclaiming the praises of God. They certainly did later (Lk. 2:20).
The angel delivered to these humble men the greatest message this world has ever heard. It was a message of hope! It is a message of hope, even today. As we join them in celebrating the birth of the Lord Jesus, we understand that He is this world’s only answer. He is God’s answer to a nation in distress, to a world in darkness, to the need of every heart, and to a future reign of righteousness and peace.
The glory of the Lord requires a response from every heart, and the shepherds were no exception.
When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them (Lk. 2:15-20).
They hurried to Bethlehem. They saw the baby. They spread the word, and they returned to their sheep glorifying and praising God. What happened here can be like a pattern for all of us this year as we celebrate the birth of our Savior.
We want to be quick to respond to what God gives us. Whatever truth about his Son, whatever command, we want to be ready to say yes to God. And we must see Him! He is our refuge and hope. Whatever our present circumstance of sickness, hurt, depression, loneliness, etc, we need to get Him clearly in our vision. Like Helen Lemmel wrote, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus.”
It is when we appreciate Him, His person, His work, His fullness in a real and fresh way, that we will want to share the message with others who need Him. It will flow rather than feel contrived and awkward. And as we live our lives, as we do the work God has given us, we can do so with hearts of worship. This is the greatest, highest, and noblest thing we could possibly do. In doing so, we will not only draw others to Him, but we will be giving Him the place He truly deserves in our life.
Like the shepherds, have you seen HIM?
Love in Christ,
Bryan and Rachel