Part two of a series on “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” Click here to read part one.
“For Christ is born of Mary,
And gathered all above
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love.
O morning stars together
Proclaim the holy birth
And praises sing to God the King
And Peace to men on earth.”
~O Little Town of Bethlehem, verse two
Though angels were rejoicing and stars above were singing, Jesus’s first coming went nearly unnoticed to human beings—at first. A young girl giving birth in a barn was of no interest to the mortal world. They didn’t know the miracle of the virgin Mary’s pregnancy; they slept through the birth of the most important Child ever born.
When humans finally were told of His birth, the angel messengers didn’t visit world rulers or wealthy merchants. Instead, they announced Him first to shepherds. “And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before [the shepherds], and the glory of the Lord shone around them…” Heavenly glory visited mere mortals to tell them God’s Son had been born in a town nearby. And how did these mortals react? “…they were terrified” (Luke 2:9).
Imagine if you were a shepherd, stretched out in the grass of a quiet, dark field with your smelly, familiar sheep—and suddenly a radiant figure broke through the shadows without warning, later joined by an entire host of angels singing “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased” (Luke 2:14).
I don’t know about you, but without the angel’s charge to “not be afraid,” I probably would have abandoned the sheep.
But when the angels departed, the shepherds went in search of Jesus, and after finding Him, they continued to proclaim as the angels had done. Following the pattern of humility in Jesus’s life, that is how heaven’s message began to be spread on earth—by way of men of a most humble occupation.
Truthfully, if the blessed news had been told first to the affluent or powerful, I would feel out of place while reading the Christmas story. I would think that Jesus was born only to save the “important” or high-ranking elites of the world, which, as I see it, would not include me. But since Jesus was born in an insignificant town, and He carried His message through unnamed, simple shepherds, it is clear He came to save and bring peace to all people on earth. And that makes Him a Savior King most worthy of all praises.
Written by Patricia Krecklow
Part 2 of 4