Just as soon as the angels appeared on the glory stage, taking the spotlight to push the praise right back to Him by singing their thunderous song, they were gone. The night was quiet once again. The silence deafening. The sky dark. And as the shepherd’s eyes re-adjusted to the darkness of the night, they looked at each other. Getting their bearings. Comparing notes. Ensuring that the others had seen what they just saw. That they weren’t alone in that crazy, supernatural experience.
It’s interesting how Luke describes those men. The shepherds that the angel of the LORD visited. Before the angelic encounter, they were simply described as herdmen that were doing their jobs and watching over their flocks on that balmy summer night. But then, when the angels went away from them, the writer uses language to distinguish between the angels and the shepherds. He describes them as human shepherds. Male or female. It’s the same phrase Jesus used when He was talking with the disciples on that last Passover before He died. After He washed their feet. And they shared their meal. He was foretelling of His death in the same way that the angel foretold of His birth. Explaining to them in words they couldn’t really understand that their sorrow would turn to joy. In the same way a woman’s does after she gives birth. Suddenly, the pain is gone. And she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being was brought into the world.
how much more joy did Mary experience
That pure and poor virgin who birthed the highest-top-of-the-tree-Immanuel. The young woman who brought forth Him whose name is also called God my Exceeding Joy. She was a mother who joyed that she brought a human being into the world. And she was also a human being that birthed to the world God-my-Exceeding-Joy.
And those shepherds who are distinguished from the angels. The ones that represent the entire human race and not the multitude of the heavenly host. They looked at each other and made an instant and unanimous decision. Simultaneously encouraging each other to do what they had already decided in their heart. “Let’s go!” they said. “Let’s go now! Immediately. Without delay or hesitation. Let’s go directly there, not stopping until we reach the city-of-David-called-Bethlehem and see it all with our own eyes. This thing that God has told to us through the lips of an angel. And the things that the entire population of heaven sang of. Let’s go see it for ourselves!”
They made the life-changing choice to seek out the Messiah-come-to-earth. To find the Son-given-unto-us. The Gift given and wrapped up tight. The Miracle that had been rendered. They heard God speak. And they chose to search Him out with haste. And again, the language shifts – ever so slightly.
After Mary heard her angelic news, she went hastily to her much-older-and-once-barren-cousin’s home. To see Elizabeth’s swollen belly herself. To marvel in her miracle. And the words that Luke uses in her story are: she went. And the words used for the shepherds-who-represent-the-human-race?
they came with haste
It’s a small detail. Inconsequential, really. But it insinuates the perspective of someone watching them come. Someone waiting for their arrival. Almost as if that newborn Babe waited for His first visitors. The shepherds who represented the human race was expected by the Shepherd who would give His life for the sheep. They came.
The human-shepherds came and found Him. (Because they who seek Him with their whole heart always find Him.) And after they saw Him, they made Him known. Loudly. Telling anyone who would listen of the things they were told concerning that newborn Babe. In full detail. Unable to contain themselves.
Because when you experience God in real life and vibrant color for the first time, it’s impossible to keep it to yourself.
Oh, LORD, may the same words be spoken of me. That I came to You with haste. May I drop everything and hurry to find You. And then, after I find God-my-Exceeding-Joy, may I never stop telling the story of how You turned my sorrow into joy. Encouraging everyone around me to also come to You with haste.