The first step is that they received an announcement of Christ's birth. It's clearest in the case of the shepherds. The shepherds were in the fields, and the angel of the Lord appeared to them. God's glory shone about them in the night sky, and they were terrified. An angel appeared and gave this message: "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 Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." Then there was a great company of angels that appeared along with the angel that had spoken. They praised God saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

You see the same kind of contrast in the financial area. The shepherds were poor, among the poorest of the poor. The wise men were rich, probably among the richest of the rich. We notice that after the shepherds saw Jesus and left, we're not told that they gave the child or the family any gifts. They didn't have any gifts to give. But the wise men were very well off. Not only could they afford to take this long journey, but upon finding the child they presented gifts of gold, incense and myrrh.

The shepherds responded to the message that was brought to them by the angels in the fields of Bethlehem; and the wise men also found Christmas, as they journeyed from the east to Jerusalem after they had seen the Messiah's star. These two groups, the shepherds and the wise men, become the models for all who find or have found Christmas, whether in a past or succeeding age.

It would be entirely wrong to end this study without pointing out that although there were many who did not find Christmas—millions, in fact —there were nevertheless some who did. They were not the kings of this world. They were not the religious leaders. They were not the thousands who were entirely engrossed in the countless minutiae of materialistic lives. They were just poor folk who were looking to God and to whom God came.

We concluded yesterday’s study with the observation that perhaps the religious leaders missed the birth of Christ because of their pride in being summoned by Herod to answer his theological question.