20-5 Little Town of Bethlehem

listen not
Listen to Little Town of Bethlehem

How silently, how silently,
the wondrous gift is giv’n!
So God imparts to human hearts
the blessings of his heav’n.

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” (Lk. 2:15)

“Let us now go to Bethlehem.” The angels announced the birth of Christ to the poor, the dirty, the despised shepherds in the fields where they are at work, watching over the sheep. Sheep to be sacrificed in temple worship. Staff in hand to lead, correct and protect their flock. Swaddling cloths nearby, priestly cloths to wrap, to protect, to warm the newborn lambs. Sacrificial lambs to be examined for spots or blemishes. These were the lambs that would atone for the sins of Israel, making peace with God and man. But this night the angels have a special announcement to make: Salvation is now possible for all mankind. This, the greatest declaration ever made, was far too glorious news for any traditional platform. A multitude of heavenly hosts descended from heaven to that field heralding their exalted message to the lowly shepherds. Why? Because God recognized in these shepherds a simple devotion and faith. . . devotion to their duty as shepherds, faith in God and His Word. God notices their heart-motive and chooses these men to be among the first to see and know the Gift He has given to mankind.

The angels glorified God, announcing to the shepherds that soon there would be no more need for animal sacrifice. The shepherds act at once. They go to see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to them. They find the Perfect Sacrifice wrapped in swaddling cloths, priestly cloths. The Bread of Life lying in a feeding trough for animals. Three decades later the Apostle “John [sees his cousin] Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29).

Experientially, Jesus is still taking away the sin of the world. Do you have the simple faith that the shepherds had—faith in God and in His Word? Would you receive the greatest gift ever given this Christmas season? Jesus is The Perfect Sacrifice, Lamb of God Who bridges that awful chasm between you and God and brings you to Him. You can know peace with God and become a partaker of His Divine nature. Like the shepherds, you simply need to take action when you see and hear God speaking to you. Let the words of this beloved Christmas carol resound in your heart and mind today as you think on the subtle reference to the cross in this verse, “How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is giv’n! So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heav’n.”