Imagine the boredom of watching sheep - at night. Luke 2:8 puts it this way, “Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.” It must have been mind-numbingly monotonous; “keeping watch over their flocks by night.” The shepherds’ daily routine of watching sheep had to be something like watching corn grow.
Certainly there are Biblical accounts of a lost sheep from time-to-time, and a random bear or lion stealing a lamb or two. But, on most nights the utter monotony of their regular routine must have been quite agonizing. What do sheep “do” anyway – especially at night? It’s no wonder that shepherd boys in Biblical times had the time on their hands to practice playing the harp and to develop their skills with a slingshot.
Then one cold, still night the excruciatingly boring routine of watching sheep on the Palestine hillside was shattered by the voice of an angel joined by a “multitude of the heavenly host.” The shepherds’ lives would never be the same. They abandoned their flocks, their staffs, and their routine to go with “haste” to see the baby Jesus. That opportunity to meet the Lord Jesus Christ changed their lives forever. Suddenly their daily routine was over. They walked away from their lives to see Jesus. The entire universe had changed and these lowly shepherds would never be the same.
The human birth of Christ changed the world – and our new birth in Christ has totally changed our lives as well. It must not be the same old routine of life. Our lives are different – and our lifestyles must reflect that.
The Christmas holiday in our culture changes things as well. The daily routine is over. We have time off of ministry, work, or school. We travel to see relatives or the family travels to see us. We shop for presents for others and open gifts from family members and friends. We consume a volume of things we never eat all year and, of course, we have to dutifully watch the obligatory “The Christmas Story” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.” We all know that Christmas should never be life as usual.
So, it makes sense that Christmas and especially the birth of Christ should totally change things. It’s not routine and it’s not the normal fare. Christ changes things. May our lives never be the “same old thing” ever again!
There are several significant observations one can make in the familiar Christmas story in Luke 2. However, for our purposes here, notice especially the response of the shepherds in verse 17, “Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.” They couldn’t help it. Jesus changed their lives and they had to tell others. Shouldn’t that be our natural response as well? They saw Christ and then couldn’t help but share that marvel and wonder with others.
Also notice the shepherd’s response in Luke 2:20, “Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen…” It’s important to notice that the shepherds “returned”. At some point they went back home – back to the fields, back to the sheep, and back to the routine. We’re not sure exactly what happened to those particular shepherds over the long haul. The text is silent in regards to that particular detail, but they did go back. The shepherds returned – “glorifying and praising God.”
We’ll have to go back to our own routines when Christmas is over, too. After the wrapping paper is picked up, after the gifts are returned, after the leftovers are eaten, and after the relatives go home – life will kick back in. At some point the daily routine of life will begin all over again. But, if Christmas teaches us anything, it must be that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has totally shattered the routine of life. At some point, we must “return” to our lives as well, but it must be with an attitude of “glorifying and praising God” as well – and it must be with a desire to share our marvel and wonder with others.
When all is said and done; life, like Christmas, must be all about Christ! Let’s make that commitment in our lives and ministries.