They weren’t expecting it. The shepherds were on guard, anticipating a threat from outside their ring of protection. Instead, an angel appears among them, right in the middle of all the lambs being raised for sacrifice, and makes the birth announcement of the Savior of the World. The shepherds and their sheep were enveloped in the radiance of God’s glory.
God’s announcement included a practical clue: they could recognize the Messiah because he would be lying in a manger in Bethlehem, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth. God wanted them to find His Son. He wanted them to see for themselves. This wasn’t solely a proclamation; it was an invitation.
To accentuate the point, the armies of heaven descend and praise God in their presence, giving glory to the King of Kings and promising peace on earth to whom God favors.
Though the sky grew dark when the angels returned to heaven, the shepherds hearts were ablaze. They wasted no time and ran to Bethlehem to see with their own eyes what the angel had told them. God had come to them, so they went to God.
When they arrived, they found the baby, lying in the manger. What was more extraordinary — angels in the fields or a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes? One seemed supernatural, a scene few would ever witness as the multitude of heavenly host cried out in praise to the Almighty God. The other was almost common in comparison: a newborn baby, with poor parents doing the best they knew how.
Yet, in that manger lay the greatest gift and display of power the world would and will ever experience.
The shepherds began their evening surrounded by glory and praise, and ended it with giving God glory and praise.
They would never be the same. They had seen the Christ.