“When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, ‘Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.”Luke 2:15-16
Many times when we sing the familiar carol “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” we tend to reflect on who the song is about. It’s understandable if we focus inwardly, identify as the faithful ones, and take the time to recommit ourselves for the upcoming New Year.
It’s also understandable if we focus on the individuals mentioned in the Christmas story. In this case, the book of Luke tells us the faithful are the shepherds watching over their flocks when an angel appeared to them after the birth of Jesus. The angel told the shepherds of the good news that the Messiah had been born in the city of David (Bethlehem), and the baby would be found wrapped in cloths, lying in a manager.
Ultimately, after the angel and a subsequent company of angels left the presence of the shepherds, the shepherds made the decision to travel to Bethlehem for the purpose of witnessing firsthand what they had just been told. Once the shepherds found Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus in Bethlehem, they shared with everyone. The shepherds continued by glorifying and praising God for everything they had seen and heard.
However, instead of focusing on the who I would rather focus on the how as I believe this is an important detail for us to pause and appreciate. The Bible explicitly tells us the shepherds went in a hurry and straight to Bethlehem. The shepherds did not say, “Let’s wait and get some sleep first.” Nor did they say, “We’ll stop by Bethlehem only after we have a chance to visit that new pasture we’ve heard so much about.” No—the shepherds made the decision to go with a sense of urgency to see their Messiah. They went immediately!
I reflect on the faithfulness the shepherds had to leave their flocks, travel into a city, and search for the baby they had only been told about that night. They made the decision: “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened.” Not see this thing that may have happened, but has happened.
The next time we hear “O Come, All Ye Faithful”, I would ask that instead of considering ourselves as the faithful ones that have already found salvation in Christ, that we focus on the example the shepherds set for us. They were vocal witnesses of Jesus. Now that we have salvation in Christ, we are called to serve Him and be witnesses, as well. We are not to be passive bystanders in our faith, observing from the sidelines on Sundays. We are commanded to go forth with the purpose of bringing honor and glory to whomever and wherever God has called us.