And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:8–12 ESV)
We don’t know much of what the shepherds were thinking when they were visited by a host of angels who told them the Christ was newly born and resting in a manger in the city of Bethlehem. It could be they were unfamiliar with the prophecies from centuries past that spoke of the arrival of the Messiah and were curious what kind of child warranted an angelic birth announcement. Maybe they understood the Messiah to be a savior and were thinking about the roughly sixty years of Roman rule they had so far endured, seeing this birth as the beginning of Israel getting out from under Rome’s thumb and re-establishing the Kingdom of Israel. Perhaps they were intimately familiar with the Scriptures and connected this birth of a Savior in the city of David to the Anointed One in Daniel 9 who would “bring in everlasting righteousness” (Daniel 9:24).
Regardless of what they were thinking, we know how they responded to this announcement: “The shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us’ ” (Luke 2:15). They decided to visit Him to see if what the angels said was true, and in the process any preconceptions they might have had likely fell away in the face of the newborn Christ, leaving them in an attitude of worship for everything they had seen God do.
We often hold our own preconceptions of who we think God should be or how we think He should act in our lives and in the world, but He doesn’t always match up with what we expect. Invite Christ to illuminate the spaces in your heart where you are holding onto who you think God should be rather than who He is; ask Him to strip away all of the preconceptions that are preventing you from getting to know who God really is.