It will soon be Christmas. Every year we celebrate the birth of the most important Person to come to this earth; Jesus, Immanuel, God with us. Do you ever wonder what His contemporaries thought? Mary the young girl who willingly gave up her very life to bring Jesus into the world, Joseph who cared for Jesus as his own child, the three kings who traveled long distances just to see Him and the Shepherds who believed the angels and rushed to find the stable where He was born. They were excited to witness the birth of their Messiah, the Man who would save them from the evil of this world. How sad that we don’t have that excitement today. Are we willing to give up our lives and travel far to see Him and worship Him? How many of us are truly expecting to see Him return? I hope and pray that many will see the signs of the times in Matthew 24. I also hope that you will be able to catch some of the excitement in my story.
A flock of sheep filled the valley below like white blossoms floating on a still lake under a full moon.
Two sleepy shepherds relaxed on the grassy slope of a small hill above, where they could watch the flock and listen for any sounds of distress. They didn’t have long to wait for in the distance Ezra heard a woeful bleating.
“Samuel, did you hear that?” Samuel turned his face toward Ezra. “What, speak up?” “Don’t you hear it? I think a lamb is separated from the herd.” Samuel sat up from his reclining position on the grass and stared at Ezra. “What?” Ezra asked, wondering at his annoyed expression. “Why don’t you speak up, you know I can’t hear well.” Ezra replied in a louder voice “I told you to get your ears checked. You should see that physician Sarah talked about. She said he could do miracles for people losing their hearing.” Samuel shook his head and replied. “I don’t believe it. No one can heal the deaf or perform miracles; maybe someday when the Messiah comes but not now. Ezra shook his head in disbelief. “I know that’s true but how can you be a shepherd if you can’t hear your sheep?” Laughing, Samuel replied. “That’s why you’re here.” Ezra now laughing too, wrapped an arm around Samuel “Come my friend, let’s go see what’s happening.”
They got up and walked towards the pleading cries through the herd that parted like the Red Sea. The woeful sound led them to a deep rocky gorge on the other side of the valley. The cries became louder now so even Samuel could hear them but in the dark, they couldn’t find the source. They searched through the entire gorge and behind every rock not willing to give up. They loved their sheep and didn’t want any to be lost. Finally, Samuel came to a deep crevasse where he could just see a tiny tail wagging behind a rock. “Well, my little lamb how did you get in there and; where is your mama?” Then he yelled out to his friend. “Over here Ezra.” Ezra climbed carefully through the loose rock to where Samuel stood. “Lambs are always straying off; probably lost its footing and fell in. I hope it’s not injured. I’ll look for the ewe while you rescue the lamb.”
Samuel called to the lamb trying to coax it out. It recognized the voice of the shepherd and tried but was too stuck. Samuel gingerly climbed down the unstable slope of loose rock to the lost lamb. The lamb was quivering in fear but seemed to “Baa” in relief as Samuel finally reached it. The shepherd pulled it out from behind the rock, picked it up and cradled it in his arms. “Come little one, you’re safe now.”
“I found the ewe.” Ezra called out. “Looks like a wolf got her.” Samuel, with the lamb draped over his shoulders, climbed up the slippery slope and walked the short distance to Ezra. Looking sadly at the now lost sheep. “If only she cried out, we might have saved her.”
With the lamb securely wrapped around Samuel’s neck the two saddened shepherds made their way through the flock back to the camp and again settled down for the night.
After only a short time Samuel asked. “Ezra are you asleep?” “No, I can’t, the sky is so bright it looks like daylight.” Samuel moved the sleeping lamb’s head off his arm and sat up. “I wonder what is causing the sky to be so bright?” “It can’t be the moon.” Ezra replied. “It’s coming from the other direction. Could it be? ———-No, that can’t be. ——- It can’t be dawn already. —— we just laid down, —- didn’t we?” They both stood up and watched for a while as the sky grew brighter.
Look, I see something over there. Is that an angel?” Samuel screeched out in astonishment as he fell back and stumbled to the ground. Ezra searched in the direction Samuel was pointing. I think I hear—–” But before he could say more an excited Samuel burst out “I think I hear it. — I think he’s saying ——– Ah, I don’t know. ——- I can’t make it out”
While poor Samuel was ranting on trying to hear the angels, Ezra continued listening until the sky began to darken and the angels left. Immediately, Ezra gathered up his things. “We have to go.” Samuel looked at him in shock. “Why, — what, —– where to. —- What did the angel say?” Ezra turned to him beaming with a huge smile. “This is what we’ve been waiting for, Samuel.” With excitement quivering in his voice Ezra repeated what the angel said. “‘Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.’” Ezra stopped a moment gathering his thoughts to remember exactly what the angel said. “‘This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger”’ With a confused look he repeated “In a manger?”. That’s a feeding trough, in a stable, with animals. Well, Bethlehem is the town of David, right?” Samuel nodded his head and turned quickly to gather up his things. Then he scooped up the once lost lamb laying it on his shoulders. “Let’s go!”
They began the long journey while herding their flock to the city of David, Bethlehem. There was no conversation between them. Both were filled with thoughts of the Savior coming to rescue them from this cruel and oppressive world of Roman occupation.
When they arrived in Bethlehem Samuel asked “What are we looking for? A stable? A cave? A house? What?” Ezra shrugged his shoulders and walked on. “Maybe God will show us the way.” Finally, they came to a possible stable. It was a cave carved out of the rock under an inn. In their confusion they waited for any sign that it was the right place. “You think this is it; a dingy cave?” Samuel asked. “How could the King of kings be born in the filth of an animal stable? But where else would you find a manger?” “I don’t know, Samuel, but the city is so crowded with the census going on maybe there was no where else. Samuel shook his head in disbelief. “That’s not right. Surely someone would have opened their door and made room for the King. I don’t understand how they could have ignored him like this.” Ezra replied. “Well, we have been ignoring his prophets for centuries. I guess they still don’t understand.”
They stood at the door of the stable and listened and then Ezra heard the quiet voice of a baby cooing. “This must be it. I hear a baby inside.”
They walked softly into the dingy stable not knowing what to expect. At first all they could see where two silhouettes against the intense brightness of a fire in the back of the cave. But as they came closer, they began to feel the presence of God. Then they saw the baby just as the angels said, wrapped in cloths lying in a manger. The baby seemed to be watching them as they approached. In that instant they knew He was the One they were looking for. The two awe struck shepherds fell to their knees and worshiped Him. Then the lamb, Samuel was carrying, struggled to get out of his arms. The little creature ran and skipped excitedly to the manger. Jesus reached out His hand and touched the once lost lamb’s head. It melted at the Savior’s touch and baa’d softly in total peace
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- luke 2:8-15
- luke 2:16