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.” So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.
// Luke 2:15-20
So these ragtag shepherds leap up and run toward Bethlehem, and are then face the arduous task of searching all the stables and barns in town for, of all things, a couple with a newborn child. The passage says that “they found their way,” which means they didn’t know where they were going, but had to seek until they found. Sounds familiar to us, right? Isn’t that the whole message of the Gospel summed up in these two ideas: we are searching for God and don’t know where to look; He is looking for us and, in fact, knows exactly where to find us, so He announces, “Look here! Look right here at Jesus!” That’s the Gospel, in a nutshell.
And what do we find when we look for Him? We find a Child – an innocent Child who is helpless and dependent. But why do we first find the Lord this way, rather than as a conquering King or a meek carpenter? Perhaps we find Him in the way in which He wants to find us: innocent, in need of help and care, lovable and made sacred by the Father’s love. We find Him in the way that He intends to make us: a newborn Child, with a whole new life before them – one that is to be filled with the display of the Father’s love.
And think about this: outside of Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth and Zacharias, who knew about this prophesied birth? No-one. But they knew, for sure, that Jesus was to be born and that He was the Son of God. So, why were the first public outsiders to see the Messiah shepherds? Think about the lineage from which Jesus descended: from a shepherd boy named David, who was plucked from obscurity while doing the most thankless, low-class job around, to have Samuel prophesy to him that he was to be a king.
So when we search for a great King, one like David or Jesus, we shouldn’t look to palaces but among wasteland hills, where shepherds ply their trade unnoticed; and to the interior of a stinky stable, replete with putrid animal waste, wherein lies a Child. There will we discover the newfound cause of wonder and awe in our lives. And if we are wise, like Mary, we will treasure all of these things, pondering them in our hearts.
The more we recover childlike innocence, the more our sense of wonder and awe will increase.