by Jennifer Kennedy Dean
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 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 2:8-12 NIV)
The shepherds were doing what they had done most nights of their lives. What likely their ancestors had done before them. They were engaged in the only life they knew. It was an ordinary night and they were doing ordinary things. They weren’t looking for God, but God was looking for them.
The greatest announcement in all of history came first to men considered lowly in society’s estimation. The first ones entrusted with the message that would transform men’s lives and change the trajectory of history were simple shepherds watching their flocks by night. They had a role to play in the Grand Drama of the Incarnation.
They were not learned or articulate. They would not eloquently share the historic message. Yet these very men had been picked out and chosen by God to be the first heralds of salvation. Notice how every detail dovetails into a perfectly planned event. Where was the baby to be found? In a manger. In a stable. Where would the lowly shepherds feel at home? It was a place familiar to them—a place with smells and sounds they knew, a place where they felt at home, perhaps. And there, they encountered the Lamb of God.
In this scene, I see God’s meticulous hand revealed in the smallest details of the story. In the same way, His hand is at work in my story and your story, calling us into His story.
What is the spontaneous response to the presence of Jesus? Great joy. Heaven’s joy. The response to a real encounter with Jesus is joy. No explaining it. When the reality of Jesus bursts into your life and transforms your ordinary moments into holy encounters, joy ensues.
“This gift of joy so excited the heavenlies that the great veil that hides heaven from earth’s sight was pulled back just a crack, and the glory of the Lord shone around the shepherds. So momentous was this event that heaven made the announcement rather than having it delivered through the mouths of prophets. News of great joy!
This joy is of such importance that its declaration had been planned from before the earth was formed. It had to be presented in accordance with its value. It was a gift so precious that the very heavens would open for its presentation.” (Pursuing the Christ)
Adapted from Pursuing the Christ by Jennifer Kennedy Dean Prayinglife.org
*Art of the acrostic for JOY available for download