The city was so crowded people were camping wherever they could find a space. Her labor pains started just before they hit the city limits coming in for the census. Because of the urgency of their situation, one would think some kind innkeeper would find a place for them and one apparently did: the barn. At least there was a roof over it and hay for bedding and a little warmth from the animals. There were cows, goats, sheep, a few donkeys and a noisy tribe of sore-footed camels in there. It was not a quiet place. The concerned couple found a stall that separated them from the lowing occupants of the barn and set up housekeeping. When the baby was born healthy and loud, the animals nearby got quiet and at least two cows and a camel knelt down in the hay.
A rather large flock of sheep were bedded down just outside of town and when the birth took place the heavens appeared to open and great angelic beings appeared in much light and began to sing praises. One of them spoke to the shepherds, saying, “Something good for you has happened in town, an event for you to be joyful about—a savior, the Messiah has been born.” When the vision closed, the eldest shepherd said, “Come on. Let’s leave a couple with the sheep and head into town to see if we can find our savior that the angels said was born for us.” So they went in and were guided directly to the stall in the barn where the baby was asleep in a trough converted into a baby bed. They told about the vision and what the angels had said, but the young couple did not seem surprised. They allowed the shepherds to get a good look and kiss the sleeping child.
So, these humble shepherds were the first to hear about the great event but it did not take long for the wise and sophisticated to learn of the birth. Kings from the Babylonian region had been studying prophecy and other phenomena that led them to understand that the Messiah, the king of kings, would be born in Bethlehem and now they had an exciting heavenly apparition to encourage them to seek Him out. They packed up their animals with rich treasures and followed the newly-appeared star through rough country until they dropped down into Bethlehem to find the child, just as they had anticipated. They brought gifts and worshipped the youngster, fully awed by this wonderful culmination of their long quest.
Shepherds found the one who would call Himself the great shepherd and kings found the One who would be known as the King of Kings. We have the privilege of being shepherded by this one born in a barn and we have the joy of being ruled over by this eternal king. He was born in the humblest of circumstances and now sits at the right hand of all power. His kingdom will have no end.