The shepherds introduced here were near Bethlehem. As an angel of the Lord appeared before them, the glory of God shone brightly around them. This terrified the men. Certainly they had never experienced anything like this before. The angel informed them that there was nothing to be afraid of. Rather, there was much to rejoice over, and not merely for the Jews but for all people! This was the day that the Savior, Christ the Lord, was born in Bethlehem!
The angel then proceeded to give them a sign, even though they did not request one (cf. Luke 1:18). This baby, the Messiah or Christ, would be "wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger" (i.e., a feeding trough). This was a very explicit sign since there would not have been any other babies in Bethlehem provided for so poorly. Isn't it incredible that the Creator of the world chose to be born into such poor and humble conditions (cf. Phil. 2:5-11)?
One moment there was only one angel and the next there was "a multitude of the heavenly host" present. In other words, an army of God's angels appeared. These angels praised God for the continued unfolding of His plan for man's redemption (cf. I Pet. 1:12; Eph. 3:10). "Glory to God in the highest" (Luke 2:14). This event was too important to be announced by only one angel! The angels also expressed peace on earth toward men of goodwill.
It does not appear that the shepherds were commanded to go find the Babe, but they were undoubtedly anxious to see the One who had been expected for such a long time. "They came with haste", apparently before the night was over. They left their flocks to God's providential care, showing the strength of their faith. When they arrived, they found everything to be as the angel had spoken.
Mary and Joseph may have been humiliated by the humble surroundings, but they were comforted and cheered by the unexpected visit of these shepherds, and the news that the heavenly host was rejoicing over the birth of the Savior, their Son. The shepherds widely spread the words of the angel concerning Jesus. Those who heard this strange account from the shepherds were amazed, likely because they had not looked for the Messiah to come in such a lowly way. While others wondered in amazement about these things (and probably forget about them after a short while), "Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart" (Luke 2:19).
The shepherds then returned to their flocks. The wonderful revelation did not keep them from doing their job. They, like the angels, glorified and praised God for the things they had seen and heard.
Luke's account of the birth of Jesus shows evidence of simple, honest truth in contrast to imaginary legends. Uninspired men would have written differently about the birth of the Son of God, but God's word comes in the majesty of simple truth.