One of the familiar stories of the first Christmas is that surrounding the shepherds, who were tending their flocks by night. An angel appeared to them, saying: “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” The shepherds then went to Bethlehem and found Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus.
Even though we’re familiar with this account, it’s the next part of the story on which I’d like to focus. After they found Jesus, we’re told, the shepherds made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.
Reading this story, in Luke 2, we might understand this phrase to mean that the shepherds shared with Mary and Joseph the message they’d received from the angels. However, we’re told in the next line that all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. This suggests that the shepherds shared their experience not only with Mary and Joseph, but many others.
What a great example for us, today. We know that we’ve been called to share the gospel with all people. However, few of us are faithful in this calling. We’re typically content to keep the good news of Jesus to ourselves.
Like the shepherds, we too should gladly go and share the message of Jesus’ coming with those we encounter. As the angel proclaimed, it is a message of joy for all people. It isn’t intended for only a select few.
This is especially easy during the season of Christmas. It’s easy because, even though it’s often neglected, the reason for the holiday is widely known. And it provides us with a simple outlet to share the message of salvation. As we sing the Christmas carols, proclaiming Christ’s birth, and as we recount the Christmas story, we share the gospel with those around us.
As we look throughout the Old Testament, we see that this was one of the main purposes for the celebrations God instituted for Israel. Not only was it a remembrance of the salvation God had provided them. It was also a means for them to pass the message on to the next generation and to others in their community. As they celebrated their redemption, they shared the good news of God’s salvation.
Even though Christmas is a ripe time for us to share the gospel, it’s not the only time. This is a message that we should joyfully proclaim each day. It’s a message we should gladly proclaim that we might glorify God for what he’s done for us. And it’s a message we should gladly proclaim that others might hear, believe, and confess faith in the Savior.