Luke 2: 8-10
“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. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”
Don’t you just love the story of the shepherds in the Christmas story? There they were, one of the lowest class of people in their society, living in squalid shacks out in the countryside. They have noisy bleating sheep that smell bad, and because sheep aren’t really very bright, they need constant care. So, the shepherds stay far away from the city. They are themselves probably unwashed and disheveled and just hanging out for a long night trying to get some rest.
But God had another plan. An angel appears first by himself to make an announcement that would change the course of the world and then is joined by a multitude of other angels making a heavenly ruckus shattering their silent night. Isn’t it something that when God chose to make history’s most important announcement, the heralding of His Son’s birth…He didn’t send the angels to Herod’s palace, or to the Chief Priests, or the Sadducees, or the Pharisees, or the Levites…He didn’t give it to some person of high repute or someone special…He gave it to the lowliest of the low… societal second class… the shepherds.
This Christmas, think about this: It doesn’t matter what kind of reputation you have, either good or bad; it doesn’t matter whether you have a lot of money or none; it doesn’t matter if you are, or think you are, on the bottom of the pecking order; or what kind of clothes you wear, or car you drive, or house you live in. No, it really doesn’t matter. The shepherd’s Christmas story speaks to all of us and says: If God can make the announcement of all announcements to the lowly shepherds abiding in the field with their flocks by night…don’t you think that His message can come to you? Because it does. Right here. Right now. God loves you so much that He sent His only begotten Son…for you.
Yep, consider those shepherds!!
Luke 2: 8-10
When looking at and thinking about the Christmas story, it is understandable that we go first, and rightfully so, to the Gospel accounts of the birth of Christ found in Matthew and Luke. After all they spell out in detail the facts of the miracle of the Virgin Birth of Jesus, The Son of God. Matthew begins the story by laying out the genealogy of Christ, demonstrating the sequence of generations as Israel anticipated the birth of David’s Son — the Messiah. Luke, striving to lay out “an orderly account” of the events concerning Jesus, begins with the excitement of John the Baptist’s birth and then pays great detail to telling of the virgin conception of Jesus.
Matthew gives particular attention to the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Like the virgin birth, birth in Bethlehem of Judea, the anger of Herod and the subsequent massacre of babies, the escape to Egypt, and the role of the forerunner John the Baptist; all specific fulfillments of Old Testament prophecy! So, the Christmas story doesn’t begin in Bethlehem, no, Israel had long been promised the Messiah. As Luke reveals, when Simeon saw the baby Jesus in the temple, he clearly understood this infant to be “the Lord’s Christ” — the Davidic Messiah! The Christmas story did not begin in Bethlehem, or even in Jerusalem… so where does it begin?
To answer this question, we need to turn to the text from Sunday’s message: John opens his gospel with the following: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” [John 1:1-3] John draws from the language of Genesis, in the beginning… in other words, where does the Christmas story begin? With God, “in the beginning”, before the world even existed! We must be careful not to equate the story of Bethlehem and the manger with the beginning of Christmas. Why? Because if the Christmas story begins at the manger, it would seem as if the incarnation of Christ, the coming of the Baby Jesus, was God’s “plan B” after the fall of man and sin. BUT nothing is further from the truth! Jesus was before the world began, eternal, He has always been. Before a single atom was formed God had planned to come to His creation in saving Love!
When viewed in that context it would seem to me that the majesty and the miracle of Christmas is all the more displayed! God’s love, His perfect love, precedes even His Divine creation! Wow! Merry Christmas!!
Luke 2: 10-12
“ 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
Indulge me for a moment… Put down your phone, turn off the news, get off of Face book, just turn off the screens. Ok? Good…
Now, think for just a moment all the wonder and joy of the Christmas season. Not the junk you hear from the news or the “whatever” online…. just the simple wonder and joy of Christmas.
Now, think about what it would be like if Jesus was never a part of it. If the personified love of God did not come down, the virgin-born Son of God did not miraculously arrive that first Christmas night. Not a pre/y picture is it? This world would be in such turmoil. Sin would be unchecked… even much more rampant than it is even now. And at this 2me of year that is approaching there would be no Christmas trees, no ornaments, no presents beau2fully wrapped. We would not have a church to go to or be able to call one another brothers and sisters. We would have nothing to look forward to a4er we die. We would not even have the somewhat widely accepted ‘golden rule.’
I shudder to think about it! I actually have a hard 2me even imagining what it would be like. But Hallelujah! You know what? He did come! He did dwell and live among us! He did take all of our sins to the cross and then, just to put icing on the cake, He rose from the dead and gave us life, everlas2ng life, and light and love and a host of other “good things”! His Word! His Spirit! His grace and mercy! Aren’t you glad Jesus was born?! Ok, now, before you go back to what you were doing… conjure up your best Linus voice (from A Charlie Brown Christmas) and read the Scripture again: “ For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!”
Yes, it definitely IS the most wonderful time of the year!
In HIS Love,
In this episode, Pastor Ben starts a series of Christmas sermons. Today, he goes to the Book of Matthew for Immanuel: God with Us
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On Sunday, November 17th, GracePoint’s own Craig Hildebrand spoke during our worship service. You can watch his message on our YouTube page here:
You can also hear the message on the GracePoint Church Podcast here: