Shepherds and angel silhouette
The greatest story ever told—God sent his Son into the world, as a baby. That’s what Christians celebrate every December.

I love the part about the shepherds. On a clear starry night, while watching over their flocks, an angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”

One angel at first, then thousands of angels light up the sky, praising God, and saying “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

The shepherds are given a sign so they can find the baby—he will be wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. After seeing the infant they return to their fields overjoyed, praising God and spreading the word about the child.

And now for the overlooked part of the story. What happens next to the shepherds? They wait. The baby disappears from the map. No word, no clue, no follow-up. The big announcement—then nothing. They wait. A year goes by, then two, then ten, then twenty-five. Where is this Savior of the world? Nothing has changed. Nothing’s different. There’s still no peace on earth.

What are the shepherds thinking and saying to one another? We can only guess, “Remember that spectacular night when the angels took over the sky? Remember the baby we saw in the manger? What ever happened to him? What happened to the good news of great joy for all the people? I thought he was supposed to save the world—and us. Did we miss something, or were the angels mistaken?”

Jesus doesn’t begin his public ministry till he is thirty years old. What happens during those thirty years? A lot of waiting. Do some of the shepherds grow weary and disillusioned in the wait? No doubt. Do they question the promises about the child? I’m sure they do. When Jesus begins his public ministry, the news quickly spreads about his unique teaching and his miraculous signs. The shepherds’ questions begin to be answered. Their wait is over. Or is it?

What about us? We know the story of the incarnation. We know the good news that Jesus preached. We trust in his death as the payment for our sins. Our lives are forever altered by what he has done for us. We praise God and spread the word about the child.

But we too are waiting. Christmas is here again. We don’t see peace in the world—no, we see a world of hurt. It seems to be getting worse. We sing, “Joy to the World” but feel conflicted with the sadness all around us. The focus is on a baby in a manger, but our desperate world needs more than that.

Have you ever wondered why God sent Jesus as a baby? God created Adam and Eve as adults—they didn’t they have to start out in diapers. Why did Jesus? If Jesus had come as an adult he could have immediately started his ministry and then faced the cross without thirty years of waiting for the anticipated torture.

That isn’t God’s plan.

Jesus has to wait through the dependence of infancy, then childhood. He has to wait trapped in a teenage body. He waits, struggling as the oldest son, toiling to put food on the table. Does he ever just want to scream and tell people Who he is, and make a quick exit? I don’t think so.

How does Jesus persevere through the years of waiting? No magical or mysterious formula. He trusts his Father. And we trust our Father too. His promises are no less real even if we have to wait for their fulfillment. What would the shepherds tell us to do while we wait? Keep praising God and spreading the word about the child—who grew up to be the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

6 comments to Waiting

  • Excellent observations.

  • Barbara A.

    I have been thinking so much lately about Jesus relationship with His Father, and that example to me. Thank you, Janet, for this reminding us that trust is the basis of our relationship with the Savior, our God.

  • Shirley Snoeyink

    The waiting of Jesus reminded me of Hebrews 5:8 “Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered.” We often think of ‘waiting’ as suffering. Proof again that “we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we have- yet was without sin.” Hebrews 4:15 Thank you, Jesus, for your obedience.

    • You’re right Shirley. Jesus had to wait too. Indeed he suffered in all the ways we do, and without sin, and without complaint (that’s the hard part).

  • Thanks Janet! Great thoughts on waiting! Something I’ve been thinking about lot as we enter into this season.

    • Hi Corey, Waiting is hard but its part of the refining process. We learn perseverance and endurance through waiting with our eyes on Jesus. We want those qualities, we just wish we didn’t have to wait to get them!