12/27 Part 4: AUDIO-VIDEO Experiencing and Proclaiming the Promise. LUKE 2:8-18
Illustration: His name was Bill. He had wild hair, wore a T-shirt with holes in it, jeans, and shoes with no socks. This was his wardrobe during four years of college. Though mildly eccentric, he was a brilliant person. He became a Christian while attending college.
Across from the campus was a traditional church. They wanted to develop a ministry to students, but weren’t sure how to go about it. One day Bill decided to go worship there. He walked in with his wild hair, T-shirt with holes in it, jeans, and shoes with no socks. The service had started. Bill started down the aisle looking for a seat but the church was full.
By now people were looking a bit uncomfortable, but no one said anything. Bill got closer and closer to the front, when he realized there were no seats. He just sat down right on the floor. Although perfectly acceptable behavior at a college fellowship, this had never happened in this church! By now the people were really uptight, and the tension in the air was thick…A deacon in his 80’s slowly made his way toward Bill. He was a distinguished man with silver-gray hair and a three-piece suit. He walked with a cane. Everyone thought, “You can’t blame him for what he’s going to do. How could you expect a man of his age to understand some college kid, thinking he can worship sitting on the floor?”
It took time for the man to reach the boy. The church became utterly silent, except for the clicking of the man’s cane on the tiled floor. All eyes focused on him. When the elderly deacon got next to the boy, he dropped his cane to the floor. With great difficulty he lowered himself and asked Bill, “May I sit with you?” The man sat down next to Bill and worshiped with him, so he wouldn’t be alone.
Do You See this as Radical?…GOD DOESN’T! You See…That’s Exactly what the Birth of Jesus Was… Radical Action…Radical Behavior…From a Radical God and Savior…Offering Us…Radical LOVE.
GODS RADICAL LOVE…REACHED DOWN TO PROVIDE US RADICAL SALVATION!
These Past Weeks We’ve Looked at…The Prophecy’s Focusing on Gods Plan to Redeem Us back to Himself…From the 3rd Chapter of Genesis…Spanning 1,000’s of years to a Stable in Bethlehem…God’s Promise PROVED He Is ALWAYS Faithful!
Then we looked at Mary’s Response to the Angel…When He said, God has a Plan for You to become the Mother of Immanuel…Jesus…We saw the Importance of “Surrendering” to God’s Call even when it “interrupts” Our Plans.
Last Sunday we looked at Joseph and how again God’s Plans were Different from Josephs Plans…We Saw the Importance of “Trusting God” when We Cant See Clearly What He Wants Us to do…To Trust and Obey “Without” Reservation!
Each of these Situations Required Radical Surrender…Radical Trust…and Radical Obedience.
Today, We will conclude our Christmas Series by Taking a Close Look at the Shepherds…And Answer the Question…Why Come First to the Shepherds?
I mean…If you had Good News…World Changing News…Whom would You tell First?
- When something wonderful happens to Us, the first people Most of Us want to tell are those closest to Us…Because they are the most important People in Our lives.
- They have Proven Themselves Trustworthy over time and Were Confident that They Will Rejoice with Us.
When God had the Best News of All the Ages…He Knew Who He Could Trust…Not The Important Religious Leaders. Or the Wealthy folk…Not the Learned Men…God Told Shepherds…He Entrusted The Good News of the Nations to the Shepherds!
Luke 2:8-9 says, “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.”
The Christmas story as told in Luke’s Gospel takes us right from the manger to the fields nearby, where an angel appeared to some terrified shepherds.
- Who wouldn’t be Terrified…If an angel and “heavenly host” appeared where there had only been scrub brush moments before?
Continuing with verses 10-12 “But the angel said to them, ’Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger’”.
It didn’t take long for the shepherds to pull themselves together after the Angelic Host Left.
- When the angels returned into the heavens, I imagine the shepherds were stunned.
- “What just happened?” someone would have said.
- “I think we just heard from angels,” another would have replied.
- “What do we do now?” would be a third person’s question.
They debated that last question until they reached the obvious conclusion: “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about” (v. 15).
- They knew that the “town of David” meant Bethlehem, so the shepherds hurried there, and arrived in time to see Jesus in the stable.
They wasted no time…In Fact…As Far as we Know…The sheep were left in the hills while the Shepherds went into Bethlehem.
- Now Bethlehem wasn’t Big, and they easily found Mary, Joseph and – just as the angel had said – the baby Jesus lying in a manger.
- Now… Babies were Not usually found in Mangers, So the fact that the angel had said this Messiah would be lying in a manger…Validated the Angels Message.
Without that specific detail about the baby lying in a manger, the shepherds may have thought they had all been hallucinating, and that part of their distorted craziness was the idea that there was a baby in an animals’ food trough.
- But they came to Bethlehem and there He was. Just as the angel had said, Jesus was lying in a manger.
- What they had Seen and Heard from the Angel was True and No Hallucination. God’s Child…Immanuel…Had Come.
Amazed and excited, the Shepherds Went Away Doing Two Things.
- First, they Glorified and Praised God for everything they had heard and seen (v. 20).
- What they had been told was True, and that meant the Savior, the Messiah, the Lord IMMANUEL had come.
- The One all Israel had longed for through generations was born, and they had seen him. And second, they told everyone they met about this child (v.17).
- Think About It…The Shepherds were the First Christian Evangelists.
- THOT: They knew so little, but it was a lot more than anyone else knew – it was the good news that God loves all people and had sent the Savior.
****I WILL BRING THIS POINT UP AGAIN LATER…but lets continue…
VS 17-18 After seeing the baby,“They spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them”.
This is a familiar and well-loved story. We treasure images of the Nativity, and the Humble Nature of Christ’s birth.
- But when We Consider who attended the birth…Do You find it interesting that God chose Shepherds to Reveal the Truth about Jesus?
- Shepherds were in the fields among smelly and not-so-bright sheep.
- They had no Power or Influence…Unlike the MAGI…They had Nothing to Bring the baby King.
SO…Why Did God Choose these Lowly Members of Society to Entrust the Greatest Truth of the Ages?
Why Didn’t God Choose the Religious Leaders? Surely they would have been excited after waiting for thousands of years to meet their Savior.
OR…Why Not Choose a King or a Rich Man whose Testimony would have carried More Weight…Why Shepherds? Two Reasons Come to Mind.
One, The Shepherds were Humbled and Amazed that God Chose them to Hear the Good News. Imagine how Unworthy they must have felt…But how Honored.
And…Based on Jesus’ Opinion of the Religious Leaders of that day, I don’t think they would have had the same reaction.
You’ve Heard All the Stories about the Pharisees. They were Religious People back when Jesus was born who thought highly of themselves.
- They loved Religion More than they Loved a Relationship with God.
LET ME STOP HERE…BEFORE WE GET TO HARD ON THE PHARISEES…LETS TAKE A CLOSE LOOK AT OURSELVES…YOU SEE BEING RELIGIOUS IS EASY…BUT HAVING A CLOSE RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS REQUIRES DENYING OURSELVES…MAKING HIS PRIORITY OUR PRIORITY EVERY DAY!
However, Considering What We Know About the Pharisees…They Probably wouldn’t have been Very Impressed that God Chose to Reveal the Secret of the Ages to Them.
- In fact, they might have Thought they Deserved to Hear the News First.
But Not the Shepherds. They were Amazed God Chose Them and they Couldn’t keep it to Themselves. SO, THEY PROCLAIMED WHAT THEY HEARD AND SAW!
When they saw it, they made known the saying which was spoken to them about this child. All who heard it wondered at the things which were spoken to them by the shepherds.
That leads me to the Second Reason I think God Chose Shepherds. After they had seen the baby Savior, they Quickly “Spread the Word” concerning what they knew.
- They weren’t worried about what others thought of them.
- They didn’t “over-think” the situation and talk themselves out of telling the news.
- They were Exuberant, Overflowing with Joy and probably still Reflected a bit of the Glory of Being with Jesus.
Remember what Happened when those Uneducated, Simple Shepherds Spread the Word that a Savior had been Born…People Were Amazed!
- God is His Infinite Wisdom Chose just the Right Group of People to Entrust the Greatest News of All Eternity.
Those humble men took the Good News of Jesus and did just what God wanted them to do – They Told Others, and Their Lives Were Never the Same.
SO…WHAT IS OUR APPLICATION FROM THE SHEPHERDS?
Remember I Said, I was going to come back to something I said…Well it is this:
Earlier I said…The Shepherds were the First Christian Evangelists…The Shepherds knew so little…But it was a Lot More than Anyone Else Knew – It was the Good News that God Loves All People and Had Sent the Savior.
As I Close…Let Me Ask YOU…Are You Amazed that God Loves You and Sent His Son to be Born…To Live a Sinless Life so that He could Die on the Cross and then Rise 3 days later so that You might be Reunited with Him throughout Eternity?
And…Are You Humbled that God, the Creator of the Universe…Loved You So Much He Would Send His Son to Die in Your Place?
This is the Message of Christmas…We are to be as Amazed and Humbled as the Shepherds that First Christmas in Bethlehem! HOPE HAS COME!
Knowing that God Came to Save YOU and the Entire World! He Wants You to Go Out With Exuberance…With JOY…Sharing the Good News With Everyone!
- If Your Amazement has Dimmed at the True Meaning of Christmas…
- If Your Joy has been Compromised with Busy Activity trying to Get Everything Done…
- This Coming Year, I Encourage You to Plan to do One Thing that will Cultivate Amazement and Joy in Your Heart.
POINT: With Great Joy They Told Others, and Their Lives Were Never the Same.
Lord…May it Be the Same With Us!