16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
1901 ASV Translation:
16 And they came with haste, and found both Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in the manger.
17 And when they saw it, they made known concerning the saying which was spoken to them about this child.
18 And all that heard it wondered at the things which were spoken unto them by the shepherds.
In 2:16 there is a one-letter difference in the spelling of the word translated "they came" which is insignificant. In 2:17 the Textus Receptus has an intensified form of the verb "they made known", whereas the Nestle/Aland 26 has the same word without the intensive prefix.
I. Luke has been recording the angelic visitation to the shepherds.
II. At 2:15 his record shifts from the angel's message to the shepherds' response.
I. Luke's Focus in 2:16-17 is Upon the Shepherds' Activity.
A. The verb translated "they came" is variously translated in the New Testament.
1. It can be translated "they went" as easily as "they came".
2. In English, the difference between "they went" and "they came" is the difference between whether the person describing the action is doing so from the geographical position of the departure point, or the arrival point. If Luke is presenting the information from the perspective of one with Mary and Joseph, he would wish to be understood as "they came (to where we were)". If, on the other hand, he is presenting the information from the perspective of one with the shepherds in the pastures of Bethlehem, he would wish to be understood as saying "they went (from where they were)". There is no good textual reason for thinking that Luke suddenly transferred his point of reference from where the shepherds were back to where Joseph and Mary were: thus, the verb should be translated "they went".
B. The issue of the activity is found in the adverb "hastily".
1. Clearly, Luke intends that we should see these men as "motivated" to find the "sign" the angel had given them.
2. The point is that the angelic experience had elevated the shepherds' interest to a high level.
C. The result of their activity is recorded by a rare use of a word that means "to find". The implication of the text is that they searched out the various manger sites in the area until they came to the one where Mary and Joseph and Jesus were. The question is why Luke would want to focus on that result by using a rare form of the normal verb "to find".
1. This is the second word in the sentence that zeroes in on the actual actions of the shepherds and both of them are "modified". The "they went" is modified by "hastily" and the "they found" is modified by a prefix that elevates the significance of the "find".
2. Apparently Luke wishes his reader to "get into the story" and identify with the "state" the shepherds were in as a result of the angelic visitation. Why? Clearly the shepherds were significantly excited. Therefore, if Luke wants us to identify with that, we are to understand just how crucial the "message of great joy" is.
D. The "finding" was of "the Mary", "the Joseph", and "the baby".
1. The use of the definite articles with the word "both" (ignored by the translators of the Textus Receptus) implies another matter of emphasis.
2. The description of "the baby" as "lying in the manger" points to the focal issue of the "sign" given by the angel in 2:12.
a. There is, thus, no escape from the issue of the "manger": a feeding trough for livestock.
b. That the angel and, consequently, Luke referred to Jesus as a "baby" is also significant when we see that in 2:17 Luke switches the descriptive term to "child".
1) The word translated "babe" is used 8 times in the New Testament (every time referring to a pre-born or new-born) and 6 of those times are Luke's.
2) The word "child" is used over 50 times in the New Testament and only 14 of those are Luke's.
3) Interestingly, the 8-day-old new-born "baby" is called a "child" again in 2:21 and 2:27. Certainly the term "baby" still applies to an 8-day-old "child". So, why the switch in terms?
E. The result of the discovery was the shepherds' making known what they had been told about the child...
1. What they had been told was ...
a. That there was a message of great joy,
b. That a Savior had been born Who is Christ the Lord, and
c. That a "sign" would absolutely establish this reality beyond doubt.
2. And that was followed up by the declaration by the Host of Heaven that...
a. God was going to get the glory, and
b. Men of good will were going to get the peace.
II. In 2:18 He Records the Impact of Their Testimony.
A. "All" who heard what the shepherds reported were mentally engaged with the report.
1. The "wondering" signals a kind of mental confusion where information is not understood.
2. At the same time, there is an inclination to understand...to seek answers.
B. The issue boils down to a lack of popular understanding of the "point" of Jesus' coming.
1. The complexities of the whole of living experience make it more than likely that people will have significant difficulty in getting a grasp of the most necessary basic realities.
a. This is a crucial necessity, because the grasp of the whole, in a very significant way, actually determines how a person understands the details. If the grasp is significantly flawed, the details never fit correctly and life is not the experience it would be with a correct understanding.
b. This is what makes one's travel through time in this body as difficult as it often is ... having grabbed the wrong "vine", Tarzan swings to the wrong "tree", and is off in the wrong direction to use his highly developed skills to solve the wrong problem.
2. Thus, the "point" often escapes us...
C. As far as Luke is concerned, the "point" is two-fold...
1. That the baby Jesus is "Savior" as both Christ and Lord, and
2. That a person's proper grasp of that identity issue results in great joy for that person.
a. The "proper grasp" involves the right understanding of the facts and the conviction of the truth of that understanding so that it undergirds both his "loves" and his "beliefs".
b. The "joy" is, then, a result of convicted understanding, not of experiences that fill up the flow of time.
D. Thus, Luke constantly emphasizes the "content" of "revelation" and the "reaction" of those subjected to it...because the Fountain of Life is the "Understood God".