Purpose: To experience afresh the wonder of the incarnation of God among us.
Joseph would be taking the weeklong trip to Bethlehem by foot with Mary about to give birth to a baby that was not his. Mary would be feeling physically uncomfortable, deeply concerned for her unusual child and tempted to worry about the future. Then, once they arrive in crowded Bethlehem, there is no normal room in the inn, only space with the animals, possibly in the back of the inn.
Luke has no need to embellish this awesome event. He lets the facts speak for themselves.
Reflecting on the lowly and humble state of Jesus’ birth can remind us of the values of God’s kingdom—God is not interested in our material comfort but in our spiritual state.
Moving about the country as they did, shepherds were known for thievery and unreliability. Moreover, other Jews despised them because they were unable to keep the laws on ceremonial cleanness. These particular shepherds, however, indicate some kind of Old Testament faith about the coming of the Christ. Still, to see and hear not one but a great company of
angels makes the birth announcement personal and unforgettable for their witness to others. Social rejects are the first to hear of the birth of God’s Son. Grace indeed! Luke’s is a Gospel of grace.
Verse 16 tells us that they “hurried” to Bethlehem, verse 17 says that they “spread the word,” verse 18 reveals that all were “amazed,” and verse 20 tells how they praised God for all they had seen and heard.
They are trusting of God and one another. They are strong-willed, reflective and practical, realistic and hopeful. They are working together to fulfill God’s will.