When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”Luke 2:15, New International Version
I offer a weekly devotional to a small group of fellow staff members, and this Monday we turned our attention to the passage quoted above, Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus. And while I have more often placed the stress on the shepherds’ exhortation to one another to “go” and “see” the sign of the baby born and laid in a manger announced to them as “the Messiah, the Lord,” I have less often contemplated the assertion that it was the Lord who had told “this thing” to them, directly. Luke tells us that the messenger is “an angel of the Lord,” and that “a great company of the heavenly host” appeared with and alongside the angel. But they considered these angelic messengers as acting at God’s behest. They claim divine revelation.
There is a distinction between having ears and hearing with understanding, as Isaiah 6:9 makes plain. Not every person who hears news about Jesus and his birth receives that message with a sense that it is the Lord who has told them, directly. But I am among those who, over time, have come to that conviction, that God communicates with us through the Word, people, and the heart-stirrings of the Holy Spirit.
To claim that one has received communication from God is a sign of the movement of God’s grace. Anyone who shares in understanding that Jesus is the Messiah can make this claim. That is worth marveling at. After seeing the child, the shepherds returned to their sheepfolds “glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”
For any who have seen Jesus, who have truly beheld him and contemplated what his birth, life, death, and reign meant and mean, they can do the same.