If The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. (Luke 2:20)
In what happens to the shepherds we can see five stages of faith:
First, revelation. ‘An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified’ (Luke 2:9).
Out of nowhere, as they are minding their own business, God breaks in. The shepherds become instantly aware of the glory and majesty of God; they realise how great and holy he is and how little and dirty they are – and they are afraid.
Second, proclamation. ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy’ (Luke 2:10).
This is not just news, it is good news – and it’s about a child who has just been born, who is the Saviour, the one who will free men and women from all their sins. In Jesus we meet our Saviour, our Deliverer and our Lord. It’s no wonder that the shepherds’ fear is replaced by joy.
Third, reaction. ‘So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger’ (Luke 2:16).
God breaks into shepherds’ lives and they hear the good news. They could have sat there discussing it among themselves but instead they get up and do something about it.
Fourth, affirmation. The shepherds tell everybody the truth of what they have seen.
Fifth, adoration. The shepherds praised and worshipped God. Fear had completely been turned around into joy. The glory poured down from heaven was now being directed back up to God.
The shepherds are the model for followers of Jesus both then and now. But where are we in this sequence?
Revelation is vital: have we met with God or, rather, has he met with us?
Have we had that first vital step of God intervening in our world and speaking to us?
Have we, perhaps through nature or in some experience, realised who is in charge of the universe?
Have we heard God’s proclamation?
Have we heard the good news that in Jesus we have the one who is Saviour, Messiah and Lord?
Have we thought it through?
Do we understand it?
Have we given a reaction to what we have heard? We may have been touched by Jesus, but have we responded by going to him and worshipping him?
Do we know anything of affirmation? Have we, like the shepherds, affirmed the truth that Jesus is God’s Deliverer? Have we witnessed to who Jesus is?
Finally, in our lives do we show adoration? Do we glorify and praise God for all we have seen and heard? Let us tune into the melody of heaven.