And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told to them.
The day after Christ's birth was a new day in the world's history. The old era had passed, the new had begun; and only the angels knew what a revolution had been wrought by the quiet power of God. The wonder has grown with the years. Christianity has been an increasing miracle of the Lord's presence on earth. That song, which a few shepherds heard, has sung itself into the thought of the world, and is the keynote and harmony of all peace and goodwill on earth.
I. THE CHRISTIAN CHANGE OF THE WORLD'S HISTORY IS A FACT. The influx through Christ of a new power into the life of humanity is a known fact of experience, as certain as the battle of Gettysburg, or the dawn of day. This fact of the new power in the world, through the birth of Christ, belongs to a series of facts. The religion of the Bible presents a continued succession, and reveals an exalted order of facts. Christianity is a positive religion of historical facts from Moses to Christ, from Christ to the last Church organized and the last communion table spread.
II. THE NATURE AND REAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS FACT.
1. In Christianity we breathe a different air. Midway down the Simplon Pass the traveller pauses to read upon a stone the single word "Italia." At this point he passes a boundary live, and every step makes plainer how great has been the change from Switzerland to Italy. The air becomes warm and fragrant, and vines line the wayside, and below, embosomed in verdure, Lake Maggiore expands before him. As that traveller rests at evening-time, he recognizes that the entrance into a new world was marked by the word "Italia" upon the stone on the pass. Humanity has crossed a boundary line: up to Bethlehem, bleak and cold — down from Bethlehem, another and a happier time.
2. This new transforming power was, to the disciples, Jesus Himself. He made all things new to them.
3. Jesus has been to the world a new revelation of God. God is essentially and eternally Christlike.
4. Jesus is also a new revelation of man. Man is in Christ another man. You pass a man in the streets, and you used to feel that you did not want to know or help such a poor creature — he lived below your world, and his name was not found in your book of life. Now it is different, for you have been baptized into the name of Christ, in whom our whole common humanity exists, redeemed and capable of a great salvation. CONCLUSION: We close by asking ourselves, "Am I living, by faith in the Son of God, in this changed world?" Is it, in the history of my soul, the day before, or the better day after, Christmas.
(Newman Smyth, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.