“When they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this Child” (Luke 2:17).
After the shepherds had come to Bethlehem and had seen the infant Jesus, they “spread the word” about what was told them concerning the child. In other words, the shepherds became witnesses of the event.
Can we doubt that the shepherds had something worth telling? Hardly! For if their story was not worth telling, then no story is worth telling, and life is lacking in all joy and meaning.
These men, poor shepherds though they were, had seen God incarnate. They had heard the music of heaven. They had seen the angels and had come to worship the angels’ King. How could their tongues be silent when they had heard such music? How could they refuse to tell what they had seen?
Moreover, not only did these men have something to tell, as we do, but the shepherds also knew of a world that desperately needed to hear their message. The world of the shepherds’ day was much like the world of our day—it needed Jesus. Jesus would later speak of Himself in precise relationship to the world’s condition. He would say that He was “the way”—for a world that was lost; He was “the truth”—for a world that was dreadfully confused; He was “the life”—for a world that was dying. The Way! The Truth! The Life! (John 14:6).
The shepherds took the message, in the only form they knew, to their contemporaries. That is the perfect combination, then—a knowledge of the good news (which is only another name for the gospel) and the people who need to hear it. That combination, when truly understood and seized upon, produces witnesses.
Would anyone want to say that those men were not authorized to spread such a message? Will anyone argue that they were uneducated? Notice that they had the most important authorization of all—possession of good news that had been revealed to them by God. Anybody who knows good news is authorized to tell it, particularly when it is news that will be the means of the salvation of others. The Scriptures say, “Let him that heareth say, Come” (Revelation 22:17). Ultimately, the only essential for preaching the gospel is a knowledge of it. So every one who knows Christ and has become a Christian can tell others of Him.
Here then is the first way to celebrate Christmas, as suggested by these verses. Imitate the shepherds in spreading the word about Jesus.
—From The Christ of Christmas by James Montgomery Boice.