It was night. In the fields near Bethlehem a company of shepherds kept watch over their flocks. Probably they were holy men, and often thought of God in the stillness of the early morn. And now they may have been thinking of the coming of the promised Messiah.
While watching their flocks, the angel of the Lord came to these shepherds, and a dazzling light shone round about them. They were much afraid; but the angel said, |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.| And suddenly there was with the angel a great multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, |Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.|
When the angels had departed, the shepherds returned to Bethlehem; and there, in a stable, they found the infant Jesus, lying in a manger, watched over and cared for by His mother Mary and Joseph. And so great was the surprise and joy of the shepherds that they went out and told all they met of the wondrous things which they had seen.
Shortly after the visit of the shepherds, the wise men from the East reached Bethlehem, and in a house they found Joseph, and Mary, and Jesus. Then they fell down and worshipped Jesus, opening the treasures they had brought, and offering Him precious gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. But God warned them not to go back to Herod, to tell him where the new-born King of the Jews was, and they returned to their own country another way.
[Illustration: THE SHEPHERDS WORSHIPPING THE INFANT JESUS.]