Luke 1:26-38, 2:1-21.
Night Scenes of Scripture
Seventeen Bible Night Scenes, illustrating and elucidating various truths of the Gospel.
by W. T. P. Wolston, M.D., 1896.
The Gospel Addresses which form this little volume were taken down, in shorthand, as delivered. They have been revised, and are now sent out, with the prayer, and hope, that God may use them to arouse the careless, and help the already awakened.
They are but efforts to present the gospel in various aspects, and from different points of view.
May the gracious Lord be pleased to bless their publication to the help of souls, hungering and thirsting for "the unsearchable riches of Christ," even as, in His infinite grace, He blessed and saved the Author, thirty-five years ago this day.
W. T. P. W.
46 Charlotte Square,
Edinburgh, 16th December 1895.
Chapter 1 A Night In Bethlehem — Incarnation
Chapter 2 Another Night In Bethlehem — Adoration
Chapter 3 A Night Of Flight — Rejection
Chapter 4 A Night On A Mount — Transfiguration
Chapter 5 A Night Of Sorrow — Propitiation
Chapter 6 A Night In Darkness — Regeneration
Chapter 7 A Night In Egypt — Redemption
Chapter 8 A Night In The Sea — Salvation
Chapter 9 A Night In A Camp — Appropriation
Chapter 10 A Night Among The Stars — Justification
Chapter 11 A Night In Sodom — Procrastination
Chapter 12 A Night Of Wrestling — Determination
Chapter 13 A Night In A Palace — Admonition
Chapter 14 A Night Among Lions — Devotion
Chapter 15 A Night In A Counting-House — Miscalculation
Chapter 16 A Night In Prison — Emancipation
Chapter 17 A Night Without A Morning — Resurrection
A Night in Bethlehem — Incarnation.
The night scenes of Scripture are exceedingly interesting, but the one that is before us this evening, I need scarcely say, must outstrip and exceed every other in interest; and for this reason, that it is connected with the birth of the Son of God into man's world for God's glory, and the blessing, and redemption of man. The moment in the history of this scene had come of which the apostle Paul says: "When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons" (Gal. 4:4, 5). Think of it: the Son is sent to win sons! Oh! it is wonderful.
Now you might ask, What do you mean by "the fulness of time"? Well, it was clearly the moment when the probation of man was over. The first man had had a fair, full, and complete trial. Tried in innocence, he had fallen, and become guilty: tried without law, he was lawless: tried under the law, he had broken it. God had one resource left — the secret thought of His heart from eternity — it was to send into this scene His own Son; His own beloved Son became man, that, as man, He might bless and redeem man, fallen man, and bring him to God. Man with all his learning, all his inventions, all his searchings, had not found out God. He had lost God through the fall — the fruit of sin — and he never found Him again. Even the law did not meet his case, for the law was not the revelation of God. The law was the declaration of what man ought to be, not the revelation of what God is.
You may turn round and say to me, But did not man know God in creation? To a certain extent clearly, and therefore he is without excuse, as the apostle puts it in Romans 1:20. His eternal power and Godhead are most surely to be known by creation, but that is not what He Himself is. "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork" (Ps. 19:1); but that is not Himself, that is not God. I might show you one day in a certain building a beautiful picture, and as you stand before it with admiration you exclaim: What a marvellous artist! What conception, what artistic power, what skill with the brush, what a touch that produced such a picture! I turn round and show you an exquisite piece of sculpture that came from the same hand, showing that it could use the chisel as well as the brush. And again you exclaim, What a wonderful man! Yes, I say, but he drinks like a fish, starves his children, beats his wife, his life is a scandal to the whole neighbourhood. In spite of his pictures and his sculpture, his moral character is of the very worst kind. Thus, you see, you do not learn the man by his works.
Neither can God be fully known by His works. "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him" (John 1:18). If there be a man here tonight who supposes that he can learn to know God apart from the Blessed One of whose birth we have been reading, depend upon it, my friend, you are profoundly mistaken. God is not to be known save in the person of this Blessed One, whom the second chapter of Luke introduces to us as the Babe in Bethlehem.
Now see how beautiful are the circumstances connected with the introduction of the Saviour into the world. Luke 1 tells us how the angel Gabriel visits Mary in Nazareth. He salutes her, and she is troubled by the salutation; but the momentary trouble produced by this distinct visitation from God is banished by the angel's words: "Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God;" and then follows the message: "And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS." It was a revelation to her. And let me say, beloved friends, if you are ever converted, and saved, you will have a revelation likewise: it will be a revelation from God of your state; and if you have not got it yet, may God give it to you now.
Well, Mary gets this revelation that she will have a Son, and call His name Jesus. You know the meaning of that name — Jehovah the Saviour. But furthermore she learns what this Son is to be: "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David." He is to be heir of the Jewish throne. But more than that: "He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end." What a surprise to her soul! She was to have a Son who should reign over the house of Jacob for ever! She was to be in this way connected with One — a Man in this world — who, while her veritable child, was yet nevertheless the Son of the Highest, and was to have a Kingdom that would never end. Marvellous revelation! And I am in no wise surprised that in pious ignorance Mary asks this question, "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" God gives her an answer through the angel: "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." Never had woman in this world, and never can woman again in this world, have such a revelation as is here given to Mary. But, while it was marvellous that she should receive it, let us distinctly understand that the revelation she received was not for her alone: it concerned you and me, as the next chapter will show us immediately. Mary's answer is very beautiful: she received the revelation in simple faith: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her."
Now, if we turn for a moment to the Gospel of Matthew, we shall find there another very interesting scene in connection with the birth of the Saviour, because there we are introduced to Joseph, the reputed father of Jesus, as men would say, and we find the Holy Ghost telling us there (Matt. 1:18): "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: when as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost." There had been this marvellous conception. It was of course a miracle: it was the direct intervention of God not alone to display His own glory, but to carry out His purpose and thought, and that there might be in this scene One, and the only One, who could meet man's need, and man's state as a sinner. He was to be here not alone to reveal God to man, but to bring man to God. Consequently His mission is stated here in brief and concise language.
But first observe Joseph's conduct. Being a just man, and not willing to make his wife a public example, he was minded to put her away privily. You must bear in mind that Joseph and Mary had been a long time espoused, and, by Jewish law, if two were espoused, any fruit that came in the way of nature was regarded as their mutual offspring. Therefore Joseph concluded he would be regarded as the father of this unborn child. Yet he was not hasty or precipitate. He had not got the jealous nature that many a man would boast of, and did not act with that rashness that others even would admire in such circumstances. It is well to think matters well over when a difficulty crosses your path.
"But while he thought on these things, behold the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived (begotten) in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins" (vers. 20, 21). Observe the difference between the message to Mary, and the message to Joseph. The mother of Jesus hears of His greatness: He was to be called the Son of the Highest, to have the throne of David, to reign over the house of Jacob for ever. The reputed father of Jesus hears that He is to be a Saviour. And did not Joseph know that he needed a Saviour? Indeed he did. And furthermore Mary knew it too, for in that same first chapter of Luke she says, "My spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour" (ver. 47). How sweet it is that before the child was born God should give Him this name — "JESUS" — Jehovah the Saviour. Blessed news for sinners! Charming name: none other so sweet. Do you not love the name of Jesus? Thank God, I do. Does not your heart respond as you hear that name? It has been the resting-place of myriads of troubled anxious souls in days gone by, and it can give rest to every such one today. Every other name will perish: the name of the mightiest man that ever appeared in this world will pass away, but the name of Jesus shall endure for ever. The enemies of the Lord said, "When shall he die, and his name perish?" (Ps. 41:5.) What does God say? "I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations; therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever" (Ps. 45:17). "Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." Thus we learn two things. The name Jesus, given to this unborn child, speaks of His being the Saviour, and furthermore His birth was the fulfilment of a prophecy, well known to Joseph, that in His person God was going to visit the earth.
Now we pass to Luke 2, and see how all this was brought about. There had been a remarkable prophecy in the Old Testament, which I daresay is familiar to most of you. The prophet Micah had announced: "But thou, Bethlehem-Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting" (Micah 5:2). This scripture plainly declared that Christ should be born in Bethlehem. I do not know whether you have noticed the meaning of the word, but it is very interesting. Bethlehem means "The House of Bread." And, oh, beloved friends, has not Bethlehem been a very House of Bread for hungry sinners for eighteen long centuries? Thank God, it has. From that spot came out the living bread, the bread of God. That scripture was so well known that when Jesus was born, and the wise men came from the East to look for Him, the scribes could quote the passage, and tell Herod that Bethlehem was to be the birthplace of Messiah (Matt. 2:5, 6).
But how was this to be brought about, seeing that Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth, scores of miles away from Bethlehem? How then was the Scripture to be fulfilled? Oh, how little men think that God is behind the scenes, and quietly overrules what takes place on the earth. The Emperor of Rome, Caesar Augustus, became suddenly possessed of the idea that he would like to know the extent of his dominion and the number of his subjects, and he determined therefore to have a census taken. He sends out, in the pride of his imperial majesty, an edict that the people are to be numbered. Very natural for a king to like to know how many people he reigns over. But in this instance the emperor would know, not only the numbers, but the nationalities of those over whom he reigned; and consequently, when the order went out for this census to be taken, every man went to his own city. So absolute was the edict that every Jew, no matter where he lived, was bound, under terrible penalty, to go up to his own city to be enrolled.
See how God steps in and uses the pride of this godless monarch in Rome to accomplish the words of Scripture. Scripture is always true. I know we live in a day when men profess to find faults and flaws in Scripture. You may depend upon it, the faults and flaws are not in the precious Word of God, but in the men themselves who look at it. If I point out a certain thing to a man, and he says, I do not see it, does that prove that the thing is not there? No; all that it proves is that it is not visible to him. It may be there, and the reason he does not see it is some fault in his own vision. I think there is something lovely in the way in which God has His eye upon what takes place upon earth, and moves everything in His own quiet unseen way, to bring about His own blessed purposes.
Well, Joseph went up "unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem (because he was of the house and lineage of David), to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child" (Luke 2:4, 5). I do not know whether you have observed what the second verse says: "This taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria." It would thus appear that the census was not made at all at this time; it fell through. Although the emperor had commanded it, and put everything in motion to get the census taken, for reasons of policy it fell through — was countermanded — and it did not actually take place till ten or fifteen years afterwards. However, the commandment sufficed to bring about the fulfilment of the Word of God, and, as Micah by the Spirit had said that Christ should be born in Bethlehem, the world's machinery was allowed to be so moved and ordered that His mother must needs travel thither to obey an earthly ruler, and thus He was born there.
Now look at the manner of His birth: "And so it was, that while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered; and she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." Now think of what we have been looking at touching this Blessed One, what we have been hearing from God's Word concerning Him, what He was in Himself, and what He was to be, the Son of the Highest, the King of Israel, the Prince of Peace, the Lord of Life, the King of Glory, God's own Blessed Eternal Son! Think who He was, and what He was, and whence He came, and why He came; and then travel in your mind to that little city of Bethlehem, and see there that lowly carpenter, with his espoused wife, shut out of the inn where travellers are generally received, because it was full, and obliged to take their place in the stable! There was no room for them in the inn, and so Jesus, the Son of God — the Son of Man — was born in a stable among the cattle.
I daresay somebody will say to me, That was merely a coincidence; doubtless the very fact of the census being taken had brought a great concourse of people to Bethlehem, and Joseph and Mary were late in arriving, and so, the inn being full, they had to find shelter where they could. Well, notwithstanding all that, I have the impression that if Joseph had been a great man, and had come with an equipage, sending an outrider before him, room would have been found for him. I have found many a time that if a rich man arrives at an inn, room is somehow found for him, no matter how full it is. But think who was here; the Son of God was about to be born into this world, and there was no room for Him!
You say it was a coincidence. Well, tell me this: Why has there been no room in your heart for Jesus all these years, no room for the Saviour up to this very hour? Ah! it only means this; there has been no want, no wish for Jesus, no desire to have Him. But if there has been no room in your heart for the Saviour till now, God grant that this night you may make room for Him. My object just now is not to expound this scripture, profoundly interesting as it is, but to bring before you the fact that the Saviour has come into this world; and, just as at that day there was no room for Him in the inn, so now there is no room for Him in the hearts of men.
What a scene that is in Luke 14. The supper is ready, and the invited guests are sent for, but instead of coming with gladness to the feast, they begin to make excuses. Then the servants are sent forth again, to bring in the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind; and after they have been brought in we hear "yet there is room." Luke 2 tells us there was no room for God's Son — the Saviour — in this world's inn; the Lord Jesus when grown up, and entered on His public ministry, tells sinners that there is room in God's house for them. If, alas! there be no room for God's Son in this world, and no room for Jesus in your heart, there is room in God's heart and God's house for you. The sweet and blessed note of the gospel trumpet tonight is, "Come! for all things are now ready" — "yet there is room;" and that is just why I am here, to invite you to the spot where the feast is spread, and where there is still room. But what I want is this, that you may have room in your heart for Jesus.
God grant it may be with you as it was with a man I once met in the city of Chester. On my way to Dublin I stopped for two or three hours, and had an interesting little gospel meeting. After it was over, my host said, "You must be off at once, or you will miss your train." There was no cab on the stand, but a man at the door said, "I know where a cab can be got." Off he went, and very soon found a cab, and we all three got in. I thanked the stranger for his courtesy, and then said to him, "Were you at the meeting?" "Yes," he replied, "and a splendid meeting it has been." "Have you room in your heart for Jesus?" I rejoined. "Well," he replied, "I never had room for Jesus till tonight. The fact is that tonight He made room for Himself, I could not keep Him out any longer." Happy man!
Friend, what have you been doing all these years? Keeping the Saviour out. He has been knocking at your heart for many a long day. He knocked very hard when that near relation of yours was taken from your side; He knocked again when you had that severe sickness, and scarcely expected to recover, but you kept Him out. He knocks again tonight, and are you going to turn Him away once more and say: "No room, Lord, no room for Thee; no room for Thy love. My heart is satisfied with the world, and the things of this life. I have no time to think of Thee and Thy things." No time for Jesus? Ah! take care, my friend, that it be not with you as with another busy man, a man of immense energy, money-loving, respectable, prosperous. One Monday morning as he was starting to go down to his business, a neighbour came in and said to him, "Have you heard the news? Your friend Mr Brown is dead — died very suddenly." "Dead," he said, "I have got no time to die. I am too busy." As he said the words, he stooped down to tie his boot, and he fell dead on the spot. Yours may be the next death heard of.
Have you no room for Jesus? Room for sin, room for folly, room for pleasure, but no room for Christ! Stay, God speaks to you again this evening. Make room, let Him have room in your heart this night.
Sometimes people think that in order to get converted they must go through a very wonderful process. Now I have been often struck with the simplicity of what is found here in the Word. The wonderful fact has come to pass that the Saviour, the Lord of Glory, has arrived in man's world, and no one knows it. Only God knows it. Heaven does not yet know it, earth does not know it, but God in His grace begins now to send out His glad tidings, and it is beautiful to observe that the people who first received the glad tidings (and it is true of most of the early conversions to the Saviour) were men fully occupied in business.
Ah, I like to see a man converted when his heart is full of the world. Some people think they will turn to the Lord when they are tired of the world, but I think it is a grand thing when you get a man full of the world's pleasures and business, and he hears tidings that turn him right round, and make him drop at once the thing he was most wrapped up in, to make room for the Saviour, and then begin to follow and serve Him.
So was it with these shepherds of whom we read here. They were keeping watch over their flocks by night. Go out into that starlit scene, and see these men busy looking after their sheep, guarding them from wolves and thieves, going on with the dull routine of life — what time have they to think of the Saviour? But, "Lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they, were sore afraid." That is always the effect when God begins to deal with a man. The felt presence of God was made manifest. And that is the thing which I covet above all for this meeting tonight, that God Himself will be with the message. I daresay many of you will recollect that when the glory of God went away from the earth (Ezek. 10) it went step by step, as it were reluctantly. But here what do I find? The glory of the Lord revisits the earth in connection with the birth of the Saviour, the Son of God. God's Son had become man's Saviour, God's glory revisits man's earth, and the angels make haste to tell the good news to these shepherds in the stillness of that night lighted up with heavenly brightness. The brightest light that man could invent or manufacture would be but dusk compared with the brilliant glory which shone that night upon the plains of Bethlehem. No wonder these men were startled. "The glory of the Lord" turned that night into day for the nonce, and we read "they were sore afraid." It is a fine thing when a man is wakened up, and begins to be afraid. The mark of an unregenerate man is that the fear of God is not before his eyes, but as soon as a soul becomes conscious that God is speaking to him, that God is drawing near to him, and addressing him, that moment that soul begins to have this right, this holy fear. Do you know what the fear of God is? It is a fountain of life, it is the beginning of wisdom, the stepping-stone to every blessing.
But immediately after we read that these shepherds were sore afraid, we find that the angel says to them, "Fear not." The moment a sense of the presence of God works the true fear of God in the soul, that moment the gospel comes and takes away the fear. Immediately therefore the angel says, "Fear not, for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy." Here is the gospel proclaimed for the first time on the plains of Bethlehem. What are the good tidings that are going to produce great joy? Tidings of Christ. That always produces joy sooner or later. I never knew a man yet who was really converted to God who did not get great joy. I have known many a person profess, without getting any joy, but never one who really came to Christ. I remember a young lady saying to me once, "If I came to Christ, wouldn't I get great joy?" "Yes," I said; "I came, and I found great joy; have you come?" "I have been trying to come," was the reply. Ah, that is quite a different thing. The one trying to come, has not really come to Jesus.
Look at Samaria when Philip preached the gospel there: "There was great joy in that city" (Acts 8). When Christ is believed on, and received, there is always great joy; it could not be otherwise. I do not say that the first effect of the gospel is to make a man happy, but rather to make him wretched. And why? Because the gospel tells me of what God is, of His justice, of His righteousness, of His holiness, and it tells me that I am a guilty, ruined, lost sinner, that I am under the judgment of God, on my road to hell, hurrying on to meet judgment. Would that make a man happy? No, the first effect when a man is awakened, and begins to think seriously about eternity, is that he is not happy, but in distress. But I tell you what the effect is in heaven when a sinner listens to the gospel and repents; as Luke 15 puts it, there is "joy in heaven." Heaven begins to rejoice when the sinner begins to repent. If I may so say, when the sinner gets miserable heaven gets happy. When the gospel comes to a man, and he learns himself a guilty sinner, unfit for God, that he cannot meet God's claims, and that God is righteous, and will not abate one iota of His righteousness to let him escape, the man begins to get wretched, and God begins to rejoice. He knows quite well that the man who is wretched today, the man who repents today, will certainly rejoice tomorrow, so He rejoices. The first effect when the gospel reaches a man is anxiety; it makes him serious; it raises the question of his sins, and guilt, and thus godly, right, and holy fear springs up. What is the next result? The gospel removes the fear: God's perfect love casts out fear, because fear hath torment. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son the propitiation for our sins."
Well, the angel brings these tidings to the shepherds: "Fear not, for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." Oh, what a revelation! A Saviour born, a Saviour for you! I rejoice with great joy tonight that I am privileged to tell you that there has been born in this world a Saviour. Have you appropriated Him? Is He yours? Do you believe on Him? Do you love Him?
He is not now in this world, I quite admit; He has gone back to heaven; He is at the right hand of the Father; but as He sits tonight on the Father's throne, He is still the Saviour. I look up tonight to the throne of God, and whom do I see? The Saviour of whom I read here in Luke 2. Having accomplished redemption, and finished the work which enables Him to act as Saviour, He has gone up to the right hand of God. It is a wonderful thing to find out that there is a living man in the glory of God, Jesus, who died and rose again. And therefore I can say to any poor sinner, no matter where I meet him, There is a Saviour in glory for you, if you will have Him. Fear not, troubled soul; fear not, anxious one — a Saviour is born unto you, which is Christ the Lord.
Then the angel goes on to say, "This shall be a sign unto you: ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." What is the result? No sooner has this blessed news come out than "suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, goodwill towards men." If men had not believed the news, angels had; if earth be indifferent, heaven is not. The heavenly hosts, so to speak, break all bounds, and join this angelic messenger who proclaimed the glad fact which was the fulfilment of the first part of that wonderful verse in 1st Timothy 3: "Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh . . . seen of angels." They never saw Him before. The heavenly hosts came trooping down to earth with deep joy. Heaven is full of ecstasy, and why? Because the unsolved riddle of four thousand years is now made clear. How is man to be saved? At length the news, the startling news goes up to heaven that the Son of God has come down to earth, that He has become a man in order that He might die for man, and deliver him. I say it with reverence, beloved friends, that I believe heaven was filled with ecstasy over the manifestation of God down here as the Saviour of poor, guilty, lost man. As to earth, it was utterly indifferent.
Oh, sad and solemn truth! Heaven moved to its centre, and men upon earth, save these few shepherds, untouched. But thank God, they were touched. As they see the glory of the Lord shining round about them, and this beautiful heavenly song falls upon their ears, what effect has this marvellous revelation upon them? They say one to another, "Let us now go even to Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known to us." They are wise men, they are in earnest, they are a company of thoroughly awakened sinners, deeply anxious, and powerfully impressed by the tidings they have heard. There is a Saviour for them, and they have learnt where they can find Him. Let us now go, they say. Prudence might have said, "Don't be in a hurry, better wait till the morning, lest the wolves should come and steal the sheep;" but faith said, "Let us go now." When a man is anxious, he does not put off coming to Jesus, he does not wait till tomorrow. And if I tell you tonight that there is a Saviour in glory for you, do not you put off till tomorrow. What about the sheep? What good would the sheep be if you missed finding the Saviour? What good would the world, or gold, or business, or position, or pleasures, be to you if you missed Christ? "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"
There was no unbelieving "if" with these shepherds. They did not say, "Let us go now, and see if this thing has come to pass;" but, "Let us now go, and see this thing which is come to pass." And they came to Bethlehem, not with the slow laggard steps with which some sinners come to Jesus. "They came with haste." Oh, sinner, wake up now; you have been too long coming to the Lord. I thank God that when the first gospel preaching was given on earth there were ready hearers, and anxious listeners, and souls that were moved by it. "They came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger." They found exactly what God had told them through the angel: the Saviour as a babe lying in a manger. "And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child." They were splendid young converts. They believed the gospel for themselves, and then went and told others about it.
And next they "returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them." They had heard that the Saviour was born, they had heard where He was to be found, and they had acted upon the truth they had heard. And when they had heard, found, and seen, they went and told everybody else. And what did they say? Not only we have heard of the Saviour, but we have found the Saviour, we have seen Him. There was no hoping, or fearing, or doubting, or uncertainty. Beloved friends, if you have found the Saviour, go and do likewise. It is a sweet thing when the gospel gets into a man, and the very best evidence that it has is this, that he desires to tell others of it. He would like others to be as well off as himself: he cannot keep it in.
Well, you know, some people say, I never speak of these things. Ah, I am afraid it is because you have nothing to speak about. But I tell you this: if you get Christ in your heart, you will find Christ will come out. Now, dear friends, let me urge you again, do not put off coming to the Saviour. On the same night that these shepherds heard the good news, they sought and found the Lord: they did not stop till they got to the spot where He was. They received Him, they believed on Him, they rejoiced and thanked God, and they told others of Him too. I do not want any better converts than we have in Luke 2. They are deeply and thoroughly impressed, they believe God's message, and they rest not till they have found Jesus. Ah, my dear friend, have you found Jesus? If so, you have got God's choicest treasure for your everlasting portion; and if you have not got Jesus, you are poor indeed, even if you are the richest man in the town where you live: you are a guilty sinner on the road to an eternal hell. Oh, man, whoever you be, do not put your head on your pillow tonight without the Saviour; and then tomorrow, if God spares you, tell others, I have found the Saviour. That is the way to spread the gospel.
"Charming is the gospel story,
Love's tale of Jesus, Lord of glory,
The sinner's Friend, seen here on earth;
Bethlehem's lowly manger held Him,
There trustful shepherds sought and found Him,
When angel's voice disclosed His birth.
Hail! hail! Incarnate Word!
'A Saviour, Christ the Lord,'
Hallelujah! God's Son, in grace, takes here a place,
To seek, and save, a fallen race.
Perfect love marked all His pathway,
As, through this world of sin and misery,
He hastened onward to the cross:
There in grace for sins He suffered,
As unto God Himself He offered,
Our souls to win by His own loss:
The cup of wrath He drained,
The victory He gained,
Hallelujah! The crimson wave, His opened grave,
Proclaim Him mighty now to save.
By the Father's glory raisèd,
Ascended high, in glory seated,
With joy we see our Saviour now;
Ransomed by His full, redemption,
To Him we cry, with adoration,
Worthy of homage, Lord, art Thou:
Both heart and voice we raise
In Thine eternal praise,
Hallelujah! In Thee we boast, at endless cost,
Jesus, Thou'st sought, and saved, the lost."