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The Shepherds’ Joy

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One of the biggest surprises on my first trip to Israel was seeing how close Bethlehem is to Jerusalem. In Bible times, it wasn’t hard to travel only about five miles from King David’s hometown, Bethlehem, to Jerusalem. The shepherds of Bethlehem probably made that journey often, for they were the caretakers of the perfect lambs that were destined to be sacrificed in the Temple. As we know, these sacrifices would be completely and eternally fulfilled by Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)

How fitting, then, that the angel heralding the Good News of the Savior announced it to shepherds as they kept watch over these precious sheep one night. The shepherds were understandably terrified, but the angel reassured them in Luke 2:10-11: 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!”

To prove this amazing declaration, the angel gave them a very specific sign: “You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” To those of us in modern times who have grown up seeing Nativity sets and watching Christmas pageants, the thought of a baby in a manger may seem ordinary. But to the shepherds, this was shocking. A newborn baby lying in a trough where barnyard animals ate? 

As they hurried off and witnessed this proof of the angel’s pronouncement, their initial fear and confusion turned to awe and wonder. In fact, seeing Jesus filled the shepherds with so much joy that they couldn’t keep it to themselves, and they became the first evangelists. Verses 17-18 tell us, after seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened … All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished.

Then, verse 20 records, the shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. Perhaps they sang the very same praises that they had just heard the host of angels proclaim:

“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” (v. 14)

May the Good News of the Savior fill our hearts with joy that overflows into all the world. God bless you!

Prayer: We praise You, Lord Jesus, for giving up the glory of heaven that is rightfully Yours as the Son of God, and willingly coming to earth so humbly as a human baby. We worship You and give You glory as both the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world and the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep. Fill us with the joy of the shepherds so that we, too, will be evangelists who are eager to share the Good News with others. In Your name we pray. Amen.


Scripture is quoted from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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About The Author

Wendy O'rourke

Wendy O’Rourke began working at CBN in 1995. She enjoys doing projects for many aspects of the ministry, including Superbook and Superbook Academy, CBN Israel, Operation Blessing, Frontlines, Miracle Living Today, and other publications. Wendy and Marty have four children and several grandchildren.

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