When the angels appeared to the shepherds to announce Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:8-14), I wonder what the details of the shepherds’ reactions were like. Think about it. Angels were not a common appearance, and when they were seen they had to tell people not to be afraid of them. The shepherds were out in a field in the middle of the night just watching their sheep like usual. Nothing unusual ever happened unless a sheep happened to wander off, or a wild animal or some robbers came after the sheep. It was a normal, mundane night.
Then all of a sudden some bright being appears in the sky!
The Bible doesn’t tell us what this particular angel looked like, nor does it say what the others who joined later looked like. Given the descriptions of angels we have from the Bible, some angels looked completely strange and terrifying, some looked like brightly clad men. Either way, just imagine seeing any of those appearing out of nowhere in the sky!
Looking at the Greek translation for the shepherds’ reaction, they were terrified! So the angel told them not to be, and proclaimed the good news of the Messiah being born. (Look at the Greek for that announcement, too. It’s lovely!) Upon the end of the pronouncement and where to find the Messiah, suddenly even more angels appeared!
I wonder what I would have felt like. A terrifying being just appears out of nowhere, tells me not to be scared, proclaims that the long awaited Messiah is here, and then even more terrifying beings show up and start praising God aloud about the good news!
Unless I misunderstand the translation, it seems that the shepherds began talking amongst themselves right after the angels left. I might have had to recover from a heart attack first. But the shepherds quickly decided to go see the Messiah for themselves, and they went quickly! (Luke 2:15-16)
At this point I sometimes wonder about the sheep. Aside from letting us know the shepherds were watching them, the Bible gives no further mention of the sheep. The good news was so important that it seems the shepherds just left the sheep there. This makes sense, really. A bunch of angels terrify you and then give you good news about the long awaited Messiah, of course you’re going to go see the Messiah! Forget about the sheep, this is important! God has sent angels to tell us He’s finally sent the Messiah!
The next thing I wonder about is the people that the shepherds told. After the shepherds had seen Jesus, they left and told people all over the place! (Luke 2:17-18) Imagine having that story to tell. The Bible says the shepherds made known abroad what they’d been told about Jesus, which likely means they told the whole story from the angelic heart attack to seeing the Messiah in a manger. The Bible says the people who heard it wondered, or marveled, and the Greek implies a sense of admiration. I wonder who believed the shepherds and I wonder who was skeptical.