The Thankful Heart of the Shepherds

May 20, 2014

The story of Christ is the most amazing story ever told. Where does one begin to tell the story? Does it begin with Micah’s prophecy? or perhaps Isaiah? does it go back to Abraham? or Adam?

Well, to go all the way to the beginning, one would have to start with the “foundation of the world” (Luke 11:50). But with regard to the hearts of the shepherds, let’s begin with Joseph and Mary.

Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem to be taxed by the Romans. And while there, Mary delivered Jesus, the Savior of humanity.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
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.
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
(Luke 2:7-20)

This whole passage is about the glorious birth of our Savior, for which we celebrate Christmas. But today, I want to zero in on one set of characters found here, the shepherds.

I want you to notice something that isn’t mentioned here. We find no command of God to the shepherds to go visit baby Jesus. In verse 12, the angel simply tells the shepherds that they’ll find Jesus in swaddling clothes lying in a manger. The angel does not “tell” or “command” them to go.

I find this extremely fascinating. This is the beginning of the most significant event that God would do for man, and yet, he did not command them to go and worship Jesus. Even if you go to Mat. 2:1-12, you’ll find the same thing with regards to the visit of the Magi. Again there is no command for them to go, only a guide for how to get there.

God has made it clear time after time in his word that he will not force anyone to follow him, but his great desire is for man to give him glory, and that by their own free will.

For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
(I Corinthians 10:30-31)

Christian, if you want to give God glory (and that should be the desire of all Christians), one of the easiest ways to do so is to simply be thankful. Maybe go a little above and beyond to show God how thankful you are for everything he’s done for you. I encourage you to let your families and friends see that thanksgiving in your life every day.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
(Luke 2:20)

After all, being thankful shouldn’t just be an attitude the believer adopts at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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