8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.magnified
21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
Shepherds attending to their flocks witnessed an amazing exaltation of Jesus at his birth. While Jesus was humbled in the flesh, being wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid down in a manger, he was still worshipped by angels who sang praises to God in expectation of his promise of bringing ultimate peace to earth through his sacrificial death on the cross, and subsequent resurrection.
The angel that approached these shepherds further magnified Jesus by demonstrating God’s glory, and calming their fears by proclaiming the newborn child as the savior of the world. In effect, the angel was bringing a word from God himself–to proclaim Christ. Scripture, in many places defines God’s word as light (ex, Psalm 119:105) and also, John chapter one describes Jesus himself as being the Word of God made flesh. This glory of God that shone all around the men was quite likely the word from God the angel was speaking to the men.
The appearance of the angel to the men, and the scene of the angels praising and worshipping Jesus certainly aroused the men’s interest, as they decided to go see for themselves what was going on. They acknowledged that it was the Lord that had made known to them who the child was. This demonstrates early on an act of God’s grace, by reavealing to them who Christ is. We know that Jesus was rejected by many, Jesus himself later tells Peter (Simon, son of Jonah) that this knowledge only comes by revelation of God the Father (Matthew 16:17). It is an act of grace that God draws anyone to Christ (John 6:44).
The shepherds certainly believed what they had been told, and demonstrated their belief by proclaiming it to the crowd at the manger scene. Many from the crowd were likely skeptical at what they heard the shepherds tell them, but Mary believed and took heed.
To demonstrate the legitimacy of the prophecy of Christ’s birth, as with the usual Jewish tradition, he was circumcised on the eighth day, and was named Jesus, as was told by the angel to Mary before his birth (Luke 1:31).