When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to
one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened
which the Lord has made known to us.” – Luke 2:15
After the angels announced the birth of Jesus, the shepherds immediately left for
Bethlehem. The phrase translated “straight to Bethlehem” indicates that the shepherds
were not close to Jesus’ location, and yet they were willing to travel to see Him.
In fact, some scholars say that they were about two miles away. Think of how inconvenient
it would be for them. They had their flocks to look after. The journey would be long.
They were already tired from working and being in the fields. Yet, they simply chose
to obey God and go…and they went immediately. What about us…do we sometimes delay
our obedience because it is inconvenient or we are tired? Do we sometimes fail to
obey God because He pushes us out of our comfortable areas and into the unknown?
I have to confess that I tend to cling to the known and comfortable. And yet, we
will miss some of God’s great blessings if we fail to obey God and obey Him immediately.
Sometimes, it can seem that obedience to God is costly. It was costly for the shepherds
to choose to visit their Messiah. It would have been far easier and more convenient
to stay home than to travel all the way to Bethlehem. But if we think that obedience
is costly, disobedience is always far costlier. We lose enumerable blessings when
we fail to obey God. Imagine, the shepherds would have missed seeing their Messiah
if they had not chosen to obey God. What are we missing because we fail to obey God
immediately? I do not want to get to heaven and have God show me all the beautiful
things that I missed because I did not obey Him.
Our obedience and disobedience do not just impact us, they also affect those around
us. We often suffer because of others’ disobedience and others often suffer for our
disobedience. For example, once Adam and Eve ate the fruit, all mankind fell. Their
one act of disobedience impacted the rest of humanity. On the other hand, our obedience
can yield great blessings for us and for those around us. Because the shepherds chose
to visit baby Jesus, they were encouraged and strengthened in their walk. And they,
in turn, also served to encourage Mary and Joseph. Imagine how refreshing it would
be for Mary and Joseph to have people come to worship their baby. Most of the people
in their hometown had probably not believed that Mary was pregnant with the Messiah,
but now the shepherds’ presence served to vindicate and encourage them. Luke 2:19
says that Mary pondered all these things in her heart. Normally, Mary would also
have given birth in Nazareth with her family by her side. But because of the census,
she and Joseph were now in Bethlehem, alone and isolated in a cave; so God sent her
a “new” family comprised of shepherds who could rejoice in her great time of celebration.
As we seek to obey the Lord, we must remember that the Lord’s commands for obedience
are for our good. The Lord is not a tyrant or cosmic kill-joy who seeks to remove
all the fun from our lives. When he calls us to obedience, it is ultimately in our
best interest. He loves us and seeks the best for us. We do not want to put off obeying
God or we will miss seeing the glory of God in our lives. So let's choose today to
obey God no matter how challenging it may seem!!!