Click here for the reading: Luke 2:15-20.
Having heard the message of the angels, the shepherds waste no time deliberating what they should do. “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened!” They listened to the Lord and went to see the child with their own eyes. In what ways are we sometimes just as eager as the shepherds to listen to the Lord? In what ways are we sometimes not so eager? Are there parts of our lives where we are less willing to listen? Why? Contrast the eagerness of the shepherds with the reluctance of the women in Mark 16.
Leaving behind their flocks, the shepherds run to find the child in Bethlehem. While we are not told how long they searched, they found the child just as the angel told them. The sign itself was nothing extraordinary. It seemed to be an ordinary child wrapped in ordinary cloth. Even Zechariah was mute for several months as a sign which showed the extraordinary character of his son John. Why does the Lord sometimes use extraordinary signs and sometimes very ordinary ones? Is there a specific reason for a specific sign? What signs, ordinary or not, does the Lord give to us? Compare the ordinary signs of Jesus in Luke 22:7-13 with an extraordinary one, like the ten steps of Hezekiah in 2 Kings 20:8-11.
Now that they have seen the Christ child, the shepherds open their mouths to declare all that they had heard and seen. This was not gossip or boasting. They had an amazing message to proclaim about this child! Why does this kind of testimony flow naturally from those who have seen God act? Why do we struggle to tell others about what God has done for us? How do the Psalms serve as examples of this, especially ones like Psalm 145?
Most of those who hear the shepherds’ message marvel at the message. It seems so unbelievable, the kind of thing that seems too good to be true. Very likely, many of them forgot all about it not long after. In what ways are we tempted to simply marvel at what God has done rather than believe it? What leads us to act this way? How do we avoid such a temptation? Why does Nicodemus marvel at the words of Christ in John 3, and how does Jesus deal with it?
Though the others did not believe, Mary treasured all these things in her heart. Long after the birth of Christ, she remembered the message she had heard and pondered what it meant for her and for the world. What is Christian meditation? How is it different from worldly ideas? What are its benefits? How does Mary serve as an example for us of this practice? How does Isaac meditating in the field in Genesis 24:63 or Psalm 1 also help us understand it? What are some practical suggestions for those who struggle with doing it?