HEAVEN INVADED EARTH
"There were sheepherders camping in the neighbourhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, 'Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody worldwide. A Saviour has just been born in David's town, a Saviour who is Messiah and Master. This is what you're to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.'
"At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God's praises.
"'Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please Him.'" Luke 2:8-14 (The Message).
Why these shepherds? Why not Herod in his palace? Why not the ubiquitous Pharisees? Why did the angel choir not rouse these important people from their sleep to tell them the marvellous news? After all, weren't the religious people eagerly awaiting their Messiah? Why not the whole city of Jerusalem?
Imagine the front page article in the morning Jerusalem Herald? "Alien being announces birth of a Messiah! Last night an alien appeared to a group of shepherds on the hills outside Bethlehem with the story that a special child has been born in the town. Apparently this child, according to the angel, is alleged to be the long-awaited Messiah. A vast crowd of similar beings appeared to confirm the story with an eerie song in praise to God; so reported the shepherds."
In keeping with the baby's birth in a kitchen cum animal shelter, the only people to witness the angelic announcement were shepherds, men who did the most menial and despised job in Israel. Why? Think of it this way: Had the announcement been made to the wealthiest and most important people in Israel, everyone else would have been excluded. Tell the shepherds and, automatically, every class and level of society would be in.
Who else witnessed this other-worldly even? Apparently no one at this stage. No one else went running to the "maternity ward" to have a look at this new-born. In the middle of the night, while everyone else in Bethlehem was asleep, a group of shepherds and a young couple gazed in amazement at the sleeping child and wondered what the future held.
That's how God works. The angels couldn't keep their mouths shut in that holy moment. They exploded in an anthem of celebration, but only the shepherds witnessed the outburst. Then everything went quiet again. The little family was left to get on with the business of daily living and the parents the task of raising this boy to be an ordinary Jewish boy who had to grow up and learn like every other Jewish boy.
Luke doesn't mention the drama of the visit of Persian astrologers who read the story in the star, and the subsequent escape to Egypt two years later. That was left for Matthew to fill in according to his purpose for his writing his story.
A strange mixture of the natural and supernatural in this amazing event! A pregnant woman goes into labour far from home and gives birth to a baby boy in a borrowed shelter. An invasion of angelic messengers announces the birth to an unlikely audience, a group of sleepy shepherds accompanying their sheep on a nearby hillside.
Their story? 'This ordinary child is no ordinary child! He's actually God's Son. How can you be sure? Check it out for yourself. You'll find Him in the downstairs room of the hostel in Bethlehem, not in the maternity ward at the local hospital. He doesn't even have baby clothes on. All they had to wrap Him in was a blanket. The crib Joseph made for Him is back home in Nazareth, so they put Him in the feed trough.'
That's how heaven invaded earth!
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