The birth of Israel’s king calls for recognition and acclaim—praise and worship. In these two encounters, we see themes emerge that are central to the birth narrative: joy, rejoicing, and praise. These mark the arrival of God’s great day of salvation.
The Shepherds and Wisemen Encounter Jesus
It was fitting that shepherds were among the first visitors to worship at the manger of the Good Shepherd. Jesus used the imagery of flocks, sheep and shepherding prolifically during his teaching ministry. He was called the “Lamb of God” (John 1:29) by John the Baptist, and He called Himself the Good Shepherd (John 10:7–21). The shepherds who were tending the fields the night Jesus was born were treated to a special show. An angel appeared in the sky announcing the birth of the Savior and describing where He would be—the city of David.
Certainly the shepherds would have realized that something unprecedented was taking place. Angels don’t normally appear in the sky and begin speaking, much less announcing the birth of the King that had been centuries in coming. As if that wasn’t enough, a vast host of angels joined the first and began praising God together (Luke 2:13)! The shepherds must have been flabbergasted. Never before had such a thing happened. But never before had the Messiah been born.
The angels departed and the shepherds were left wondering what to make of it all. Could they have stayed in the fields and kept watch over their sheep? Certainly. But if the angel told them where to go and what to look for in order to see the Messiah, weren’t they supposed to go? So go, they did. They found Jesus just as the angels had instructed them, and the significance of the moment was not lost. They encountered Jesus, and they bowed to worship Him. They then shared the story of the angels’ appearing and all they had seen and heard (Luke 2:15–18). God’s Word did not disappoint.
And as the shepherds laid eyes on their Savior, worship sprung from their hearts.
In the east, a star had appeared. We know very little of the wise men who saw the star and investigated its significance. They came to find Jesus later—after Jesus had moved into a house (Matthew 2:11). They had followed the star to the place where Jesus was, and once there, were overjoyed, and they knelt before Him offering gifts befitting a king. Frankincense, gold, and myrrh. They too bowed before and celebrated the young King, giving him the best of their offerings.
Regardless of their background, cultural stature, financial state, or circumstance, the two groups of men who sought out the newborn King did so out of faith, and were quick to bow a knee before Jesus. They had encountered extraordinary circumstances that made finding Jesus nearly impossible to ignore.
What is our attitude toward Christ? What would we be willing to do to meet and worship Him? Will we require a chorus of angels, or a moving star in order to seek Him out?
How are you affected by the shepherds’ and wisemen’s encounters with Jesus?
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