Lesson in obedience from the shepherds
The wise men brought expensive gifts to the Christ child. The shepherds just brought wonder. But it is from the shepherds that we can all learn a life-altering lesson. Look at how they obeyed the messenger sent from God. The shepherds said, after hearing from the angel that the Savior had been born, Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us. What do we know about the shepherds’ obedience from this passage?
First, it was corporate; the shepherds obeyed together. They exhorted one another to obey the Lord. Are you hanging around people who are in the habit of obeying God’s Word? Or would you say your closest companions are those who mock the Bible, or at best simply ignore it? The first group is harder to find, but well worth your diligent search.
Second, the obedience of the shepherds was immediate; they said, “let us now go,” and then they left where they were to go to the place the angel had told them about. The shepherds hurried to obey God even though there were lots of reasons not to; the bleating of the sheep all around gave them a perfect reason to delay. But they left the temporal to find the eternal.
Do you obey God with that much abandon? There is delight and surprise waiting for those who will make haste and obey God’s word.
Third, the obedience of the shepherds was grounded. It took faith for these men to leave their sheep and go into the city looking for a baby in a feeding trough. But it was not presumption; God had revealed it to them. Is the faith that guides your life moment by moment grounded in what God has clearly said? Don’t hide behind the cloak of, “I cannot understand the Bible.” I like how Mark Twain said it: “It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.”
If you just obey the parts of the Bible that you do understand, and “the main things are the plain things,” your life will be turned upside down, I promise. The shepherds understood exactly what God was telling them to do, and they simply obeyed.
Fourth, the obedience of the shepherds was rewarded. And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in the manger. We don’t know how long it took them to find the right baby. There may have been other babies in Bethlehem that night that were wrapped in swaddling cloths, but according to the angel there would only be one lying in a manger, a feeding trough. I can imagine the shepherds going door to door saying, “Uh, hello. Yes, well, we are looking for a baby. I mean, it’s a special baby. Well, uh … ma’am, do you have a baby in a feeding trough?” Perhaps the Bethlehem police were called out a few times, we don’t know. But the shepherds persisted. No matter how long it took, they did not stop until they found him. This is such an important biblical principle. In Jeremiah we read, “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” And in Isaiah, “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.”
My prayer is that you and your household would seek and find the Savior this Christmas. He is not in Bethlehem now, but as close as your surrendered heart.