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The First Evangelist

The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them. Luke 2:20 NLT

We are all familiar with the story of the shepherds, Jesus’ first visitors. They are in the fields with their sheep when an angel appears, announcing the arrival of the Messiah born in Bethelem. Suddenly, an angelic choir appeared, singing.

Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased. (v. 14)

Scripture says, “After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished.” (v. 17-18) This account makes them the first evangelist. True, they had yet to hear the good news of Jesus’ teaching and fully understand what this baby's birth meant, but they knew this was the prophesied Christ.

They did not stay in Bethlem, though they must have been sorely tempted. Instead, they returned to their jobs and the fields “glorifying and praising God.” Having experienced what they did is not a one-time telling of the story. No, this is something you share with your neighbors, friends, your children, and your children’s children. They, in turn, would pass it on through the generations. “Child, I want to tell you a story about your great-grandpa. He was in the fields one evening when…”

By now, you probably see where I’m going with this. Like the shepherds, we have a story to tell. It likely didn’t happen in a field among the sheep; it could have been in our car, homes, or church–but that encounter is no less miraculous than that of the shepherds. Our lives are forever changed; what happened is too good to keep to ourselves.

As miraculous as that initial coming to Jesus grace-filled moment is, we aren’t meant to remain fixedly in that moment but continue to grow in Christ. We can’t stay in Bethlehem but are to return to our flocks–our employment, our families, our communities–as changed people “glorifying and praising God for all they had (we have) heard and seen.” We have a story to share.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gift of salvation through your son Jesus Christ. We pray that we may be like the shepherds who, after hearing the good news, went out and shared it with others. Help us to be bold in our faith and to share the gospel with those around us. May we be a light in the darkness and a witness to your love and grace. We pray that many will come to know you through our words and actions. In the name of your Son, Jesus the Christ, we pray, Amen.


Pastor Tim

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