Here we find ourselves on the eve before Christmas. During this time of year we will exchange greetings of Merry Christmas. Send Christmas cards to friends and family, and even post on Facebook sayings such as: “Jesus is the reason for the season” or “Let’s keep Christ in Christmas.”
These things are good. They not only force us to think about Christ, but they also force others who may never consider Jesus to consider Him. So it is important we keep Christ at the center of Christmas, in our conversations, and even in our social media posts.
While it is good and right for us to do these things, what I’m afraid of is that even though we speak about Jesus, write about Him, and celebrate His birth this time of year, we may not really know how the Bible calls us to respond to the good news of Jesus Christ.
How should we respond to the good news of Jesus Christ? In other words, what should we do after hearing the message of the gospel? The shepherds response in Luke chapter two acts as a model.
Before we look at their response, let me provide you with some background information, so we know to what news they were responding.
Chapter two starts with a decree by Caesar Augustus that everyone must return to their hometown for a census. Not a big deal for most, except for the fact that the decree would increase their taxes. For Mary and Joseph on the other hand, it was a big deal. Mary was nine months pregnant and Joseph’s hometown was ninety miles away. Nevertheless, they made the trip.
After successfully navigating their way to Bethlehem, when they arrived, Mary went into labor. To top it off, there was no place in town for them to lodge except for a stable. Mary had no other choice but to deliver Jesus in a stable and lay Him in a manger.
Shepherds were close by in the fields that night tending their sheep when an angel appeared to them. He told them the good news of Jesus’ birth. A Savior had been born, the prophesied Davidic King was here, and He was close by in Bethlehem.
Before they could go check things out, a host of angels appeared singing. Their song further clues us into the magnitude of the historical event; Jesus would shine forth God’s attributes in the world because He is God and He would bring peace to men through His death on the cross.
That night, when the shepherds responded to the good news of Jesus, they did more than go to a hospital room with a few cigars and a blue balloon in hand with “It’s a boy!” printed on it. They went to see for themselves if the good news the angel relayed to them was true.
The Shepherds Response
The First Way They Respond is Immediately
In verses 15-16, Luke writes,
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.
After the angels left them, they went in haste to find the One the angels told them about. They did not delay, they went to search out the truth immediately.
Our response should be identical. When we hear the good news of Jesus – that He has come to save us, to restore our relationship with God, and make peace for us – we should respond immediately by seeking to confirm the truth of the message. The Shepherds responded in that way, and so should we.
If we are apathetic and lackadaisical, it means we have not yet grasped the magnitude of the message, or our need for a Savior. As well as it means we don’t understand that this world cannot offer us the peace that only Christ can offer.
The Second and Third Way They Respond is by Believing and Telling Others the Good News.
In verses 17-18, Luke writes,
And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.
After the Shepherds found Jesus just as the Angel told them, they believed and then told others the good news. Jesus, the Savior of the world, the King we are all awaiting, the Chosen Messiah, is here!
So those who believe the gospel message, tell others about the gospel message; that is the proper response, and it should be our response.
The Last Way They Respond is by Glorifying and Praising God.
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. (Luke 2:20)
After leaving, they responded by glorifying and praising God, which should be our response as well.
We use, read, and write these words frequently, but what do they mean?
Glorifying God, which praise is wrapped up in, has two ideas attached to it. Those ideas are (1) Beauty and (2) Duty .
First, the idea of beauty.
When someone or something is beautiful, we adore them; our imagination is captured by them; we praise, dote over, and admire them. As well as we talk about them, and long to look on them just to see more of their beauty. We do all this just for who they are not because we stand to have them do something for us.
Second, the idea of duty.
Duty entails service. Often, it means we do something to get something. When it comes to glorifying God, however, service is done not to get something, but just because of who God is. In other words, our service is selfless.
A few ways we can serve God selflessly and subsequently glorify Him by doing so is by:
- Keeping His commandments.
- Submitting to His rule over our life.
- Telling others about Him.
When we do these things selflessly, expecting nothing in return, we glorify and praise God.
What does all this mean? How does this apply to us?
It all means that if we don’t adore, praise, talk about, if our imagination is not captured by, or we don’t long to look on Christ for just who He is, we are not glorifying Him.
It also means that if we don’t selflessly serve God by keeping His commandments, submitting to His rule over our life, or tell others about Him, we are not glorifying or praising Him either.
As well as it means we are not responding properly to the good news of Jesus.
How should we respond to the message of Jesus? How should we respond to the good news?
- Immediately by searching out the truth of the gospel message.
- Believe in the good news.
- After believing, we should tell others about the gospel.
- Lastly we should glorify and praise God.
That is how the shepherded responded to the message of the good news, and that is how we should respond to the message of Jesus this Christmas.
Why should we respond in this way?
Because God Himself has come to this earth to rescue us from death and destruction.
He has planned out His rescue mission before the foundations of the world. He has directed history, so that His plan would come about. He Himself has left His throne in heaven, was born as a man in a manger because there was no place for Him in the inn, He lived a perfect life, but went to the cross to die the death we should die, so that we might have life.
Isn’t that amazing? The King, the Creator of this world has come to rescue us from death and destruction because we rejected Him.
That is why we should glorify and praise God. That is why the message the Angel brought to the shepherds was good news. That is why we should respond to the good news of Jesus Christ.
Questions for Reflection
- Have you responded to the good news by searching out the truth?
- Have you responded to the good news by believing in Jesus?
- Have you responded to the good news by telling others the gospel?
- Have you responded to the good news by glorifying and praising God?
 Tim Keller, Father Son and Holy Spirit, Sermon on Mark 1:9-13, January 15, 2006.