Every December my church puts on an event called Bethlehem Walk, an interactive living nativity of sorts that takes people through a recreation of firstcentury Bethlehem and then through scenes of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Thousands of people from the community and even all over the state come each year to hear about the real meaning of Christmas. I’ve been
a cast member almost every year, but this year for the first time I played the part of a guide, who leads groups of people through the city and from one drama scene to the next.
If I thought it would get monotonous saying the same lines, hearing the same story and seeing the same things acted out on repeat for 20 hours in one weekend, I could not have been further from the truth. One of my favorite parts was seeing the reactions of people in my groups to each of the scenes, especially the kids.
After the group watches the angels appear to the shepherds in the field and tell them of Jesus’ birth, we hurry with the shepherds to the stable to see it for ourselves. After we learn that this baby really is the Messiah, the guide is supposed to tell the group, “Come, let us go tell others what we have seen!” (From there, the group stumbles upon the three kings and points the way to them.) One night, however, I had a group of kids who were as enthralled with the whole story as anyone I’d ever seen. When we got to the manger, they crowded in close, eyes wide, like they’d never seen anything like it. They watched with awe as Mary sang “Silent Night” and rocked the baby Jesus in her arms. And just when she finished and
I opened my mouth to speak my lines, I was upstaged—one little boy in the front jumped up and shouted, “It’s Jesus! We gotta tell everybody!”
Sure, we all crack a smile, but the little boy had it absolutely right. Tell everybody! The shepherds did just that after the angels pointed them to baby Jesus—they made it “widely known,” according to Luke 2:17.
How could they keep quiet, having seen what they had seen? How can I keep quiet, having been redeemed by Christ?
If you, like me, ever feel unqualified or unworthy to share the Gospel, remember the shepherds. They were the most unlikely messengers of the Messiah’s birth—rough, poor, dirty; outcasts of society.
God could have sent the angels to proclaim the news to anyone, but he chose the shepherds. He used them as the firstever preachers of the Gospel.
Just as the shepherds could not keep quiet about what they saw when they found Jesus, so it should be for us. This Christmas season, share the good news—not just of Jesus as the baby in the manger, but of Jesus who came to save us from our sin.