The Shepherds, the Light, and Us

I stood in the midnight silence, wrapped in a blanket, staring at the twinkling distance and watching a faint, shadowy light flickering across the sky.


The Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights, is a magnificent creation to behold.


This beauty is caused by particles in Earth’s atmosphere meeting particles released by the sun’s atmosphere. It’s a grand and glorious collision.





On nights like this, as much as I love sharing the experience with my family, I also don’t mind standing alone in complete darkness, watching for the next change in the lights’ shape. On this particular night, these passages grabbed my attention as I witnessed God’s handiwork:


“The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
    on them has light shone.”

Isaiah 9:2 ESV


“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.”

Luke 2:8 ESV


I couldn’t help but wonder what the shepherds thought about when they looked up at the night sky, all those nights before the angels appeared to them.


Were they weighed down by the tyranny of deep darkness in the land of Israel?


In a place of such heavy oppression, did they long for the promised ruler who would shepherd them?


Did they feel unseen, inconsequential, or forgotten?


Did they ever sing David’s words in Psalm 8, praising or crying out for the Lord to be mindful of them?


“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him?”

Psalm 8:3-4 ESV


The sudden light of the angel, and the glory of the Lord that surrounded them filled them with terror. But the angel’s news of a Savior and the sight of Jesus in a manger, produced all the great joy for them that God had promised.




I live on this side of history. I can stand in the darkness, enjoying the serenity and majesty of a night sky, but unlike the shepherds, I have all the benefits of Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection. They lived with the promise of salvation. I live now with the reality of what Christ has accomplished.


The light that Jesus brought is shining in my heart and I can live as a child of the light now, all because of that one night when the grandest and most glorious collision occurred.


The Creator of the ends of the Earth, came to us.


The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.


I AM is with us now.


Even now on this side of history, the angel’s good news is still good for us today. As we long to have the deep darkness in our lives lifted away, Jesus’ light shines into the darkest corners in us, freeing us from the oppression of sin. We have the Holy Spirit enabling us to repent and empowering us to walk as children of light.


“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV 

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