“So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the baby, who was lying in the manger.” (Luke 2:16)
Have you ever been so excited about something that you just can’t wait to tell everyone about your experience? Maybe it was a really good movie. Or an amazing sporting event. Or you just landed that job that you’ve always dreamed of having?
Whatever it is, you find that you just can’t contain your excitement – and you could care less if your listener is not nearly as excited about it as you are. Your “cup” is full and overflowing – and you want that flow to spill out on as many people as you can find. What you have… NEEDS to be shared! You just can’t help yourself.
This is exactly the way the shepherds were feeling after their heavenly encounter. The Bible says, that after the angels left them, “they hurried off…” I can just picture them as they girded up their robes and sprinted over that hillside, headed for Bethlehem. They ran from their jobs. They ditched their responsibility. Because the only proper response to the news they heard was an act of irresponsibility – an act of total abandonment to “the message” and to finding that long-awaited Messiah.
And find Him, they did. Just as the angel had said.
Imagine Joseph and Mary’s surprise… when a bunch of huffing and puffing shepherds show up at their door. Imagine their shock when the shepherds want to come in and see the baby! Imagine their amazement when the shepherds tell of why they had run all that way to find them – and of what the angel had told them. Imagine their joy when they see the delight, the life, glowing in those shepherds’ faces. The Bible mentions that this is the first of many things that Mary treasured.
But the shepherds weren’t done. The Bible indicates that they went out into the night and started spreading the news. What they had heard. What they had seen. What had filled their hearts to overflowing. “And all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.” (Luke 2:18)
Uncontainable news has a tendency to amaze an audience. Even if the source of that news may not be what you would consider the most “trustworthy.”
I get the sense that the shepherds could care less about what people thought of them that night. In those moments, who they were (and how society saw them) didn’t matter. All that mattered was the message. The good news that brings great joy. The Messiah had been born – and they had the testimony of the angels AND their own eyes to prove it. They may have not been the “best” mouthpieces for that message – but they were willing to give it all they had to share their experience.
When I think of the shepherds’ uncompromising zeal, I cannot help but wonder at my own lack of zeal concerning my own experience with the Messiah. I have experienced the reality of what they had only seen and heard – I have that Savior living within me. Yet, when was the last time I was abandoned to the message – when was the last time I felt the news uncontainable in my spirit?
Of course, none of us can live in perpetual zeal… but every once in a while it just might be a good thing to “gird up my robes and run in the passion of exhilaration.”
When it comes down to it… the same Savior who captured those shepherds’ hearts, and filled them to overflowing, and caused them to run with such abandon in the streets… is the same Savior Whom I worship today.
What dulls our hearts? What causes us to lose sight of the wonder of the “good news of great joy?” Maybe, Christmas is the perfect time to remember what we have so easily forgotten. Christmas is… God coming to be with us – and coming to freely give us all the things that this world cannot hope to provide.
Today is a good day to be reminded that everything changed, for every heart, who embraces the Savior Who came that night in Bethlehem.