And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger (Luke 2:16 ESV).
You and the other shepherds are still dazed from a sky filled with angels. Your night vision is just starting to return, battered by the blazing glory of light. You look at each other and think, Did that really just happen?
If it was a hallucination, all the other guys shared it. They all saw the angel who appeared from nowhere, announcing that the Messiah had just been born in Bethlehem. They all heard the words, “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger.”
The next step was obvious: go and see the baby!
According to the account in Luke, the shepherds wasted no time. Once the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds chattered excitedly among one another and decided, “Let go straight to Bethlehem and see this thing that God has revealed to us!”
After such a spectacular display of supernatural fireworks, you might expect to find something out of the ordinary in the village of Bethlehem. It would seem only appropriate to have a neon sign blinking over the right feeding trough, or one more angel pointing the way to the crib. But that was not the case.
Luke 2:16 tells us that they harried to town to look for the baby, and they did find him. But the Greek word for “find” is not the one you usually find in the New Testament. Instead, Luke adds an extra syllable on the front to intensify the meaning. The word aneuriskō means “to find out by searching.” One dictionary explains it as “to come upon by looking here and there, to locate or track down.” (Danker, Concise Greek Lexicon).
The shepherds didn’t find Jesus in the way you find a penny in the parking lot. They didn’t just happen on Mary and Joseph.
The shepherds didn’t waltz into town and go directly to the stable, guided by a star or an angel.
No, they found the promised One after an intense search, going from house to inn to barn, looking for the manger that held a baby announced by angel armies. These men were not conducting a casual search. They were highly motivated to find Him.
The word aneuriskō appears only one other time in the New Testament. The apostle Paul was hurrying toward Jerusalem, carrying an offering for the impoverished believers there. When his ship anchored in the harbor at Tyre to unload cargo, Paul decided to search for other Christians in that city. Acts 21:4 records it: “We sought out the disciples there and stayed with them seven days” NIV. It was a similar situation. Paul was entering an unfamiliar town, carrying no address book. But he knew there were fellow-Christians there. So he searched the place until he found them!
Many people find Christmas to be a depressing time. Haunted by bad memories, frustrated by tense relationships, buried by mounds of undone holiday obligations, they don’t seem to find the joy that everyone sings about. Jesus may be the reason for the season, but they haven’t noticed him around lately.
Any of us can move through the Christmas season without finding Christ there. But it might be that we aren’t actively looking for him. We are just waiting for to grab us by the elbow and say, “He’s over here!”
Suppose the shepherds had halted at the edge of town, looked around to find only a slumbering village and turned to go back to the sheep, disappointed that there was nothing to see. They would have missed the marvel of the manger. Instead, they found the baby because they searched with all their energy.
God has announced in a thousand ways that Christmas is the season when His Son was born to bring eternal joy and salvation to the world. Let’s search for Him in this holiday rush, looking everywhere until we find Him.
What is one thing you can do today that purposefully aims to find Christ in your Christmas rush?
© Ezra Project 2018