About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals where we are exploring traditional Advent themes of waiting, mystery, redemption, and incarnation. To sign up to receive text notification of these posts, text zpc advent to 39970. Advent booklets are also available at the ZPC Welcome Center. We welcome your comments and questions each day.
Waiting | Luke 2:8-14
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:8-14 ESV)
The season of Advent is all about waiting and expectation. It reminds us of the Israelites waiting for thousands of years for their promised king to arrive. It reminds us of Mary and Joseph’s waiting several months for Jesus’ foretold birth. And it reminds us of how we are waiting on Jesus’ glorious return, at which point God’s kingdom will be restored and there will be no more sin or suffering.
In Luke 2: 8-14, God announces Christ’s long-awaited birth via an angel sent to a few lowly shepherds. Until the angel appeared to them, these shepherds—social and religious outcasts—may not have even known that they were “waiting” on a savior. We aren’t told whether the shepherds were Jewish or Gentile, whether they believed in our God or in any god at all. Thought to be “unclean” due to their work with dirty animals, they were banned from temple worship. Considered untrustworthy, they were unable to testify in a court of law. Lumped in with the tax collectors and prostitutes of their time, they were shunned by even the non-religious of society. The shepherds in this story likely felt hopeless and stuck. They were simply going about their daily business of herding sheep when their lives were forever changed by an angel’s announcement of “great joy that will be for all the people,” a savior “who is Christ the Lord.”
Isn’t it interesting, and oh-so Jesus-like, that the first people we know of (outside of Mary and Joseph) to learn about Christ’s birth were social/religious outcasts? And how ironic that, up until that moment, they may never have even realized they’d been waiting on or needed a savior? They were just going about their business, having conceded themselves to the fact that their lives on Earth were as good as they were going to get, when they were invited to personally meet for themselves the One who would save us ALL from our suffering! Did these shepherds return from seeing Jesus to new and improved lives, better jobs, more friends, and/or religious status? Likely not. But we learn in Luke 2:20 that they returned “glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen...”.
This Advent season, as we find ourselves frustrated with the commercialism of Christmas, spending a little too much time with family members, coworkers, or others who may not realize or may have forgotten they need a Savior, or thinking things can’t or won’t get any better for us or for others, let’s remember: the same Jesus who revealed himself to those lowly shepherds over 2,000 years ago will return in all his glory to restore God’s perfect kingdom. Praise God!
We thank you for this time of Advent. We acknowledge that—as we’re immersed in the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations—we often hurry right through the Advent season, making Christmastime more about the giving of gifts and time spent with family than about acknowledging the importance of your son’s birth. We thank you for revealing yourself to even the lowliest of us and to those of us who may not know, or sometimes forget, that we need a Savior. Help us to live more like your son as we wait for his glorious return.
In Your Son’s Name,