February 25, 2024 | Doug Sauder
Watch our most recent mid-week message here.
We're so glad you're taking a next step to get connected! Login or create your Calvary account below.
Don’t have an account? Sign up ›
“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’ 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.’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the Shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”—Luke 2:13–19 (NIV)
No day feels as exhilarating and memorable as someone’s wedding day or the day a couple welcomes their first child. The events that take place throughout that day spark an excitement and joy that leave you both eager to share with others and cherish each moment. Today’s passage tells of an event far more significant.
The Shepherds Preach
Lowly, disregarded, and unclean . . . that’s how shepherds were regarded in those days. Yet, it’s to those least likely to merit such news that the angels appear. Perhaps God, as the One who searches hearts, found in these meek men hearts receptive to the message the angels would share.
Upon hearing the tidings of the angels, the shepherds leave with great haste and make their way to Bethlehem to see for themselves what they have just heard, and indeed, they find their newborn King in a stable in Bethlehem, swaddled in a manger.
The readiness with which they received the message and sought out to discover it for themselves made them the first evangelists of the gospel.
The People Marvel
The shepherds’ eagerness couldn’t be contained—it had to be shared with others! The first recipients of the gospel message proclaimed by the shepherds were the people of Bethlehem. Can you imagine the scene? Men so excited they can hardly speak, fumbling over their words, their appearance as though their entire world had been turned upside down. Without seminary training or religious degree, they preach about what they have heard and seen—the Savior of the world has come!
The people respond with wonder! They’re awestruck; bewildered by the news. “Is it possible, in the little town of Bethlehem, the incarnate God came to dwell with us?”
The marvel with which the people responded made them blessed beyond measure.
There’s joy mixed with chaos in everything that’s taken place. The tension of the evening—looking for a place to sleep, the labor pains, the surreal cries of a newborn baby—now all give way to strange shepherds entering the stable and sharing the reason for their unannounced visit. The news of the angels, the choir, the message; they all take Mary back to the first angel who appeared to her nine months earlier, announcing the birth of the Messiah. At last, the day had come! And Mary took it all in—every word—and treasured them in her heart.
The way Mary pondered those things in her heart revealed her faith.
The Gospel and Our Hearts
The characters in this passage reveal a powerful truth about Christ’s coming to Earth: open hearts receive and respond to the good news.
If we want to see God this Christmas season, we must open our hearts to Him. This story shows that to hear the gospel—the earth-shattering truth that God has sent His Son into the world to dwell with mankind and save humanity from their sins—is to have your heart overtaken with wonder!
Like the shepherds, open hearts receive the good news and seek diligently until they find more of God and then share it with others; they have tasted and seen His goodness. Like the people of Bethlehem, open hearts hear the gospel and are filled with wonder; they’re left astonished that God would make Himself known to us. Like Mary, open hearts treasure God’s Word with tender care; they believe in the God who fulfills His promises until they see them come to pass.
Friend, consider your own heart this Christmas season. Have you lost your wonder? Has your heart grown apathetic or gone astray? Then let your heart hear the message of angels as if for the first time: “Today a Savior has been born to you!”
A Savior—the One whose death and resurrection gives us everlasting life, whose blood cleanses our every sin, whose love is mighty to transform us from the inside out. Today, this Savior, Jesus Christ, is accessible to you and me.
Hear the gospel and let your heart awaken!
“Joy to the world, the Lord has come! Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room, and heaven and nature sing!”
Pause: What’s your heart focused on this advent season? How’s your heart?
Practice: Like the shepherds, tell someone you meet today about Jesus and what He’s done for you.
Pray: Jesus, thank You for coming to Earth to be born as a baby. Your birth is the greatest news to ever be told! Lord, open my heart to receive this news today with wonder and faith. Remind me of the joy of Your coming, and give me boldness to share that message with someone who needs it today! I love You, Lord Jesus, my Savior. Amen.
Gabriella Bemis serves as a volunteer for Calvary’s communications and worship teams. She holds an M.A. in psychology from Fuller Theological Seminary and is passionate about integrating her knowledge of human behavior with the truth of God’s word. When she is not writing resources or singing at church, Gabi loves to paint, cook, and enjoy time outdoors with her family and friends.