“The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.” – Luke 2:20 (NASB)
Every Gospel writer focuses on a key element. They also use key words. Matthew, for instance, highlights the fulfillment of prophecy and speaks of the “kingdom of God.”
Luke approaches Jesus’ life from a different angle. He gives attention to the outcasts—Mary, who would have been a social pariah because of her unexpected pregnancy; the lepers; the shepherds; and various women. Luke also uses a particular phrase at times: “glorifying and praising God.”
When the shepherds leave and return to their sheep, they share the good news given them and give glory and praise to God. The Bethlehem townspeople can’t make sense of what’s happened or is happening. They seem to be struck speechless. Luke records no replies; rather, the townspeople “wonder at the things” told them by the shepherds (Luke 2:18).
Luke 5 shares a similar account. Jesus heals the paralyzed man, and the man gets up, rolls up his mat, and walks “home glorifying God” (Luke 5:25). The crowd surrounding him, like the Bethlehem residents, is “struck with astonishment” (Luke 5:26). They, however, join the once-paralyzed man in giving glory to God.
The difference in response may not seem like much, but a few sentences prior, Jesus forgives the man for his sins. Jesus reveals who he is. And when he does, the whole crowd takes notice. They recognize Jesus is no mere healer or great teacher. He is God in the flesh, and he has come to forgive sin once, for all (Hebrews 9:11-14).