When the angels went away from them to heaven,
the shepherds said to one another,
“Let us go, then, to Bethlehem
to see this thing that has taken place,
which the Lord has made known to us.”
So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph,
and the infant lying in the manger.
When they saw this,
they made known the message
that had been told them about this child.
All who heard it were amazed
by what had been told them by the shepherds.
And Mary kept all these things,
reflecting on them in her heart.
Then the shepherds returned,
glorifying and praising God
for all they had heard and seen,
just as it had been told to them.
After weeks of confronting darkness, we get to see the light. That is precisely what the shepherds set out to do. They went to see the salvation that had entered the world. Why did they believe an angel that had said to them that a savior had been born? Why did they believe that the savior was an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes? Why did they believe that the savior was in a manger surrounded by farm animals, should not that savior be born in a castle or at least reside in an inn? I think it was because of who delivered that message, it was the same messenger that appeared to Mary, and to Joseph, and to Zechariah. It was an angel, messenger from God speaking to them, and they understood angels. They listened attentively for those messages simply because they believed in their God. They told Mary the message delivered, and she held it in her heart knowing the truth they had spoken. Their message was the same as the one she had received from the angel. The shepherds returned from that manger praising God, just as they had likely done on their journey to that manger. They witnessed Gods wonders simply because they opened their eyes and ears, and hearts to the Lord their God and savior. In their life They knew darkness, they also saw the Light.
Jesus entering the world at that nativity is such a contrast to the old ways of things. In the Old Testament man is created by molding a piece of clay, in this New Testament He is conceived through the Holy Spirit. In the first life is breathed into the earth, in this New the creator enters creation. In this real world, the powerful become Kings. In this nativity, the almighty enters the world as the most vulnerable of all, an infant. The infant King enters to remove that damaging sin from Adam, that man of the earth. That infant will gather the faults of the people this earth, so that the man of the earth can reunite with their God. This birth, and this infant in a manger is a big deal. It is the birth of salvation. Those shepherds heard of this savior from an angel because they listened for that word of God. They knew well the sins of man, they also knew the promise of salvation.
I wonder when those shepherds looked at their savior, did they think of how this savior would work? Did they think of how their salvation would come about? Did they think that because that light had entered the world, all would change in an instant? Or, did they look at that infant and realize that salvation like a child needed to be nourished and needed to grow. For them, they had not yet witnessed the gospel, or heard his preaching, or seen His cures; they simply looked at a child and listened to an angel. They were to witness salvation unfold. Perhaps the creator entered creation in this way so that we might realize that importance of growth. Perhaps He chose to enter poor, and swaddled so that we might grow in true riches, and gain a strength of faith more powerful than any army.
It is interesting to experience this Nativity through the eyes of those simple shepherds, and to look at this birth as something new. To learn to listen for the angels as they did, to travel to the Christ Child like they did, to gaze on Him anew and grow again nourished by the gospel He preached. By approaching that crib in the way of the shepherd, a faith can be rekindled as new born as a baby, free from the errors of the past. It allows one to look at that life anew, and listen for those same angels that announced it to those shepherds. It is to approach that manger as if our salvation depends on it.