By Dr. Synesio Lyra, Jr.
The greatest gifts one receives at anytime are those which are a part of the giver! On the very first Christmas such was precisely the case: God offered Himself to he world in the person of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
That gift was most precious from the start in that Jesus left His home in glory and condescended to be born of a virgin, and in very precarious, humiliating conditions!
Furthermore, it was most costly also when we consider what his thirty-three years on earth entailed in order for Him to purchase our redemption, to secure our pardon, and to make eternal life with God a reality for all who put their trust in Him alone!
The story of Christmas, so beautifully outlined by Luke in chapter 2 of his Gospel, portrays the shepherds’ reactions to that first Christmas as a possible model of what our own response should be throughout our lifetime in the world.
Verses 15-16 convey the idea of “wonderment” on the part of those shepherds. After being startled by the angels’ announcement of such stupendous occurrence, those men rushed to Bethlehem where they became the first humans (apart from Mary and Joseph) to contemplate the newborn king, the promised Messiah, the only Savior of humankind!
They were amazed to be found worthy of such marvellous experience and, in total wonderment, their eyes glimpsed the One born to bring redemption to themselves and countless more members of the human race throughout the following ages.
Secondly, their reponse was also one of “service.” After that initial look, they could not keep to themselves what they had just observed and recognized. Instead, “they made known the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds (vv.17-18). On their own initiative, voluntarily they proceeded to tell others about the arrival of the Christ child, of their promised deliverer, the Son of the living God!
But the shepherds also responded with “praise,” as verse 20 testifies: “Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.”
Indeed, any encounter with the Son of God can only elicit one’s praises to the Father, as this incident clearly illustrates and reports. The life of every Christian is to be a continual “doxology,” i.e. an ascription of glory and praise unto Him from Whom all blessings flow; unto Him Who, alone, is worthy of our worship!
Many of the Psalms challenge us in that direction, and the answer to the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism declares that “man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”
Hopefully, you have already chosen your personal response to Christmas. Nevertheless, whatever that initiative might be, follow the example of the shepherds on that first Christmas in Bethelehem of Judea, and add your own wonderment, service, and praise!