The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen.
How are you and I to respond to the story of Jesus’s birth? I want to suggest two principles that inform us of what our response should be to God’s indescribable gift of Christ.
First of all, God’s gift is to be acknowledged, not ignored. Just imagine those shepherds out there in the middle of the night. They saw thousands of angels praising God, announcing the birth of the Savior. Then the shepherds looked at one another and said, “Boy, that was really something. Let’s get back to our sheep now.” Of course they wouldn’t do that! Such an announcement demanded a response from the shepherds, and it demands a response from us as well. You can’t ignore the fact that Jesus was born in Bethlehem of a virgin. You can’t ignore that He died on a cross. You can’t ignore that three days later He was raised from the dead and after that 500 eyewitnesses saw Him. You can’t ignore the fact that millions of people throughout history say their lives have been transformed by the resurrected Jesus Christ. You can’t ignore those facts any more than those shepherds could have ignored the angels.
Somebody may say, “Well, I believe Jesus was a good moral teacher.” The problem with that view is Jesus claimed to be God. He said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30) and “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). So you can’t just say He was a good teacher. Since Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, we have one of three choices about what to call Jesus. We can call Him a liar. Maybe Jesus claimed to be God but knew He wasn’t, so He was a liar. Second, some people say He was a lunatic. Jesus thought He was God, but He was out of His mind. The only third alternative is He is the Lord. Jesus is exactly who He claimed to be. And that is a response we have to make. Is Jesus who He claimed to be? He is either a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord. You can’t ignore that.
And that leads to a second truth: God’s gift is to be shared and not kept. “The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them” (Luke 2:20). It’s interesting that the first evangelists in the Bible were not prophets or priests; they were smelly, dirty shepherds. As soon as the shepherds heard about the birth of Jesus, they went as quickly as they could to tell others what they had heard. That’s what an evangelist does–he shares the good news. And if we are Jesus’s disciples, we are going to have the same heart to share this news, just like the shepherds did, with as many people as possible.
Jesus calls us to go into all the world and make disciples (Matthew 28:19). We call that the Great Commission. It’s not the great suggestion. The only thing you and I were left on earth to do after our salvation is to share the good news of Jesus Christ with as many people as possible before He returns. God’s gift of salvation through Christ is to be shared, not kept.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Back to Bethlehem” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2016.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.