GodReflection: It’s a Boy—We Worship the Gift Baby
“Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about” (Luke 2:15).
Perhaps a subtitle of this post could be level ground. I have no idea who first used the phrase: “The ground is level at the foot of the cross.” I hear it used periodically in sermons, come across it in writings and find I too incorporate it often.
Certainly, the idea comes from Prophet Isaiah:
A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain . . .” (Isaiah 40:3-4).
Jesus came to make the ground level for all humankind at the gate of the kingdom. There is no better example than Luke’s historical account of the shepherds.
In royal palaces across the pages of history when time came to compile the guest list for a new king, shepherds weren’t first on the list.
The name of shepherds didn’t even appear. Invited were royalty and those with the right pedigree. No commoners allowed.
I’m a city guy. I’ve never met a real shepherd. I do recall an encounter with shepherds while on a back-packing trip in my younger years as we fished The Rocky Mountains’ Piedra River. With their dogs they navigated a large flock down a meadow and across river.
They stopped only long enough to drop a string and a hook in the cold water to catch a trout for lunch. How did they know to do that? I had been at the task all morning and would probably have to depend on the skill of one of my buddies for my own lunch.
Back to Luke’s account of the shepherds. They too were living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night (Luke 2:9).
In my last post I look at the Angelic announcement:
“. . . Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:11-12).
Luke drew us to the under the stars praise service led by a chorus of angels in the open field.
The worship ends. The lights are turned off and the angels returned to heaven. I really like this next part. It makes all sorts of sense.
This wasn’t the first time these rugged guys heard of Messiah. Their formation came in the laps of mothers and grandmothers as they heard repeatedly the stories of King David and the promised Messiah who would be even greater. Yet, my bet is they were more startled than anyone to be first to hear the announcement of his arrival.
The first reaction of the shepherds is no surprise. If I had received a angelic announcement follow by a symphonic angel chorus with stage lights in an open field, I would respond just as they did. So, would you.
“Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So, they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.
They found the baby to be just as described by the angels. I doubt they had a prayer service nor sang songs in the barn. They went to see.
Luke gives us four bullet points results from their visit.
- They spread the word of what the angel told them about this child.
- All who heard their story were amazed.
- Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
- The shepherds returned to their flock glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Back with their sheep the shepherds worshiped. They praised Holy God for all the things they had heard and seen. They must have praised Him for level ground.
Of all possible recipients on earth, they—common shepherds—were chosen to hear the first announcement of Messiah’s arrival in an ordinary manger filled with straw.
I find it pretty neat to know that as a guy raised in the Chihuahuan Desert I can join both angels and shepherds in praise to God. All because the gift baby born that night in a stock shelter leveled the ground at the foot of the cross for us commoners. Yep, pretty neat don’t you think?
Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection: Shepherds Worshiped