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The Shepherds and Angels Rejoice

Christmas Advent 2017  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  35:05
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Introduction

Over the past three weeks we have been learning about the different characters in the Christmas story. Characters who all play an important role in the story, and share similar aspects to how they fit into the story.
At first we looked at Zachariah and Elizabeth, how they received news of their coming pregnancy from an angel, even in their old age they birthed a child and named him John.
Then you heard from Tamille about Mary and the virgin birth, another visit from an angel and birth announcement.
Last week we looked at the other side of that birth announcement, seeing how Joseph reacted to the news that him and Mary were going to be having a son.
Two annunciation scenes, with an angel appearance, the response of fear, the command not to fear and the announcement of a birth that brings joy.
Todays narrative follows this same pattern, an angel, fear, the response to not be afraid, and the announcement of a birth that brings joy, except this time the angel isn’t announcing the birth to the parents.
Lets take a look at the third annunciation scene in the Gospel of Luke.
Luke 2:8–20 NIV
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. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, 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. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

The Angel Appeared, with an Announcement

The angel came to announce the arrival of Jesus to the shepherds.
Right of the top this passage seems strange to me. it actually makes no sense.
Angles are messengers from God.
Why would you give the message of the birth of the Lord, their long awaited for Messiah to a group of shepherds outside of town?
Getting the Word Out Should Not Have Been Through Shepherds.
I have three kids, when each of them were born I wanted everyone to know. So in this day and age we would turn to the internet, or telephone. In the past you would even put an announcement in the paper.
You would use every means possible to get the word out, because to you this is an important life milestone, the birth of your child.
So why would an angel go to a group of shepherds to get the word out about the biggest birth in human history?
The Answer to this Isn’t Found in Trying Determine What Shepherds Are.
The answer lies in understanding what they weren’t.
they weren’t royalty
wealthy
or connected
they didn’t hold any influence, nor did they live in the cities where the large populations would be, such as Jerusalem, Athens or Rome.
They lived in the country, where no one lived, in the wilderness.
Shepherds just weren’t a big deal, they were smelly, dirty, lunch pail carrying blue collar workers who were at the bottom of the social scale.
These were lowly, humble shepherds in the wilderness doing their thing.
It is in this image that the answer is found of why the shepherds.
Mary gives us a picture of this in her prayer:
Luke 1:52 NIV
He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.
Jesus gives us an image of this theme in the beatitudes:
Matthew 5:3 NIV
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Peter tells us that God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

So Why the Shepherds?

By going to the Shepherds, Luke is showing us who Jesus has come for.
Jesus has come to save the lost, the meek, the poor, the sinners. Those who represent humility.
By going to the Shepherds it depicts the attitude of the one who came, Jesus.
When describing Jesus Paul writes:
Philippians 2:5–8 NIV
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
So what is Christmas - Christmas is the meek and humble coming for the meek and humble. This is what the shepherds represent, a picture of salvation, a picture of Jesus.

What Did Jesus Come to Do?

The answer is found in vs 9-10.
Luke 2:9–10 NIV
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.
Notice in each of these stories when the angel visits there is fear, and the angel tells them not to be afraid.
They are not to be afraid because he brings them good news, news that will cause great joy for ALL the people.

Jesus Came to Remove Our Fear

This is the message of Christmas, that we don’t have to be afraid anymore.
A saviour has come, you don’t need to be afraid anymore.
We fear so much in our world.
We fear losing control, we fear not having enough money, we fear health issues, we fear, fear.
But most of all we fear death, we fear loss.
Jesus came to remove our fear, specifically our fear of death.
Christmas brings hope to a world that fears everything.
There is another fear we all have that is hinted at in this text.
The fear that comes when we stand exposed in our unrighteousness, before a holy and glorious God.
This is a fear that supersedes all other fears, the text hints at this fear.
There is a direct connection with the glory of God and the shepherds fear, this is common in scripture. When ever someone experienced the presence and glory of God they were fearful.

The Glory of the Lord Shone Around Them.

The glory of the Lord (doxa)
is the splender, granger, the radiance of God, God’s essence.
In the OT the glory of God shows up in a cloud, in fire, or a light.
The glory of God in the NT shows up as Jesus.
The response of fear to God’s glory is appropriate.
When we stand in the presence of God in our own abilities, our own efforts and experience God’s glory, there is reason for fear.
But we are told not to fear, because Jesus has come to give us confidence in the presence of God.

“Fear Not” is the Great Message of Christmas

Jesus enters our fear and understands it.
all of us are fearful, we try to hid it in our culture because fear is seen as weak.
The message of Christmas, is that if you are weak because of fear, Jesus has come for you! Jesus recognizes our fear and took it upon himself on the cross.
Jesus doesn’t tell us to not be afraid, he actually enters our fear, he comes along side it and brings hope.
But there is more, Jesus doesn’t just enter our fear, He replaces our fear, we see this in vs. 12-14.
Luke 2:12–14 NIV
This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Fear is Replaced with Peace

The sign is a baby wrapped in clothes.
Thats a strange sign, I have seen lots of baby’s wrapped in cloths.
The sign is because of how this baby came. In a manger, in a barn.
Colossians 1:9–20 NIV
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
2. Fear is replaced with Peace because of who Jesus is, God in the flesh, who has come for us so we can be saved.
a. He was born in and animal room and will die with robbers on a Roman cross.
b. The birth and death of Jesus bring us peace, a peace that nothing else can bring.

Closing

This morning we have answered three key questions:
Who was sent - Jesus, the saviour, the Messiah.
Who Jesus Came for - The meek, the humble, those who live in fear.
Why He came - to replace our fear with peace, by going to the cross and taking our fear upon his shoulders.
Jesus was sent because God loves us.
John 3:16 NIV
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
b. love was Gods motivation for Christmas, so no one would perish.
The Christmas message is simply this:
Big Idea: Jesus came, sent in love, to take away what we fear most......death. The message of Christmas is that there is hope in the midst of our fear, the hope of life everlasting! The Hope of a Saviour!
This Christmas season rest in the hope that only Jesus can give. The hope that brings salvation to all, peace on earth to those whom all favour rests.
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