Christmas Advent Day 20: Preparing to See
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.” When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” (Luke 2:8-15, ESV)
When I was a little girl, I shared a room with my sister. Our two brothers were in the room next to ours, upstairs and away from our parents’ room below. I can’t blame them, really, for wanting their own space; we were a noisy foursome and they just wanted a good night’s sleep. But on Christmas mornings, we would all pile into one room as we waited for the green light from Mom and Dad, that special song on the record player that was our signal to rush down for Christmas morning.
But I remember a Christmas or two when one of us wanted to peek. As we tiptoed from our room, we would say, “Let’s go and see!” Whether our siblings chose to follow us or not, we just couldn’t contain our excitement, wanting to get a glimpse of what might be under the tree for us. This is just a small example of something much bigger that we read about today in Luke chapter 2.
Shepherds spent a lot of time alone with their sheep and many hours in the dark as they guarded the flock. Their duties were simple, and shepherds were considered pretty low on the scale of social status. They were dirty and slept in the fields with the animals, wearing simple robes and sandals; nothing about them was elaborate or refined. But one night, as these shepherds guarded their flock, expecting another mundane evening, something happened that turned their world upside down.
As they sat in a dark field, keeping a sleepy eye on a flock of sheep, the sky filled suddenly with angels who had something to say to them. It was an announcement so big that they were filled with wonder and exclaimed, “Let’s go and see this thing that has happened!” I can imagine them running—not walking—to see this baby, wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger—and not just any baby, but the Promised Messiah, the Son of God.
Have you ever been told something that seemed too good to be true? I know I’ve been given news that, unless I saw for myself, I would not have believed. These shepherds didn’t only hear the news but they got to see the truth of it with their own eyes. And I’m sure that, as they went forth after laying their eyes on the Christ child, this was a story they would tell for the rest of their lives.
It’s Christmastime again, and there’s a lot to see. The faces of those we love, the warm glow of candlelight, and the magical sparkle of our tree all capture our eyes. Our focus is pulled in many directions from beauty all around us—old and new. Our sight is a big part of what we associate with the magic of the season, but there is something about it that should make each of us say, just like the shepherds, “Let’s go and see!” So let’s truly see, not earthly things that bring momentary pleasure, but see the One we celebrate this season.
We want our sight of Him to be a lingering one, not a passing glance, quickly forgotten as we pack away the Christmas decorations and turn the calendar to a New Year. We want to see Him, our risen Lord, bearing the scars of Calvary. We want to see the things He has done for us and say to those around us, “Come and see what the Lord has done for me!” Seeing really is believing—and when we see Him, we’ll see that He is who He says He is—our Savior, the Messiah, our coming King. And when we see Him, there is only one appropriate response: worship and adoration!
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. (Luke 2:20, ESV)