The Shepherd's Example - Luke (2)8-20
The Shepherd's Example
Bethel Baptist Church (Simcoe) - Dec. 20, 1995
Mississauga International Baptist Church - Dec. 20, 1998
Text: Luke 2:8-20
Introduction: We have here an account of the most wonderful revelation to a group of shepherds.
Why were the shepherds chosen by God? They were lowly, unknown and obscure.
Yet, the angel of the Lord appeared to them, announced the birth of the Saviour, and they, responding in simple faith came to worship the babe, and went on their way telling the good news.
Yet this is more than a heartwarming account of what took place nearly 2000 years ago. It is an example for each of us today.
Do we look at the birth of Christ as some tradition that is trotted out every Decemeber, or do we sincerely accept the message and true purpose for Christ's coming to earth.
The shepherds lives were changed forever on that night. And unless the Christmas story changes our lives too we have missed its real meaning and purpose.
Let us notice...
I. The Shepherd's Retreat vs.8
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
It is night time in the hills of Judea. These hardworking shepherds are looking after their flocks, keeping an eye out for predators and potential dangers for the flock.
It is a time of peace and quiet for the shepherds as well as the sheep. The labours and physical toil of the day are behind them, it is a reflective and restful time. And it was in the stillness of the night that God chose to send His messenger to reveal the birth of Christ to this band of shepherds. A time when He would have their full and undivided attention.
Application - It is often in those times of quiet and stillness that the Lord will come to us.
We may be laid up in a bed of sickness or injury. Illus: Dad's broken leg in April/95 - Dad told me how the Lord helped him to realize some important truths during the time he was laid up.
It may be that we need to schedule some quiet time.
On a daily basis.
On certain occasions.
Just as the body needs a time to rest so we need that time of spiritual retreat. time to get away from the busyness and noise of life and allow God to speak to our hearts.
II. The Angel's Report vs.9-12
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
In the stillness and quiet of the night the shepherds watch their sheep, when, without warning they are confronted by a heavenly visitor, an angel of the Lord, and surrounded by the glory (the brightness) of the Lord.
Needless to say, the shepherds were frightened. What could this heavenly visitor want? Had they displeased God? Did the Lord have some special mission for them? Were they dreaming?
The angel immediately put their fears to rest, and their hearts at ease by saying, "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people."
What great words of comfort! Nearly 100 times in the Bible we find the words "Fear not" or "Be not afraid".
To Mary – Luke 2:30 “....Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
To Joseph – Matthew 1:20 “....Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
Now to the Shepherds
The Lord knows we have fears. It might be a financial fear, it may be we have some real enemies, it might have to do with our family or our health, it may be related to our walk with the Lord. But in every case our fears can be calmed if we will put our confidence in God.
Psalm 118:6 The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?
Why did the shepherds have nothing to fear? Because of.....
The angel's announcement is good news. The good news is the Gospel. It is explained in vs.11
1. The Good News is Personal
For unto you....
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Rom 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
I'm so glad that I'm a "whosoever."
2. The Good News is Present
...is born this day....
No more waiting, no need to delay, Christ is born today.
What are you waiting for?
II Cor. 6:2
3. The Good News is Practical
This is mankind's greatest need, and that need has been met through the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
4. The Good News is a fulfilment of Prophecy
...which is Christ the Lord...
He is the Messiah, the annointed One of Israel. The Saviour who had been prophesied of in the OT and long awaited.
TO ALL PEOPLE
All nations, all walks of life, all classes. This announcement came to shepherds. If it had come to kings, noblemen or dignitaries some might doubt that it really was for all people. But it came to the blue collar group, these humble shepherds.
III. The Angel's Rejoicing vs.13-14
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
As soon as the angel had finished his announcement he was surrounded by a vast multitude of angels, a heavenly choir, and they praised God loudly.
1. Jesus birth brought Glory to God.
2. Jesus birth brought Peace to mankind.
Not initially peace between the nations, but peace within the hearts of those who receive Him.
From time of Christ till now (2000 years) the world has only had peace for eighty of those years.
Dozens of wars right now.
There were those in OT Israel.....who proclaimed peace.
Jer. 6:14 saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.
Just who established the Nobel Peace Prize? And what brought on the idea?
Alfred Nobel, a Swedish scientist, patented 355 inventions, including artificial silk and leather. To him, "a day without any new idea was a day wasted!" But he received his real fame and fortune in 1866 when he invented dynamite.
In 1888 a newspaper in Paris made a mistake in reporting the death of Alfred's brother, Ludvig. Mistaking one brother for the other, the headline read: "The merchant of death is dead." Faced with this shameful death announcement, Alfred longed to change how others viewed him.
So the Peace Prize was born out of Nobel's frustration and desire to rewrite his own death notice. At the end of his life, the conscience stricken Nobel sought to "pay for'damages done" as best he could by using his fiery fortune of 6 million dollars to promote life instead of destroying it.
Nobel Peace Prize winners have taken us only a tiny distance on the road to peace.
There will not be permanent peace until Jesus Christ rules and reigns on this earth during His one-thousand-year earthly reign.
Then, and only then, will there be peace on earth.
Weapons of war will be turned into farming tools (Isaiah 2:4).
The animal kingdom will be at peace, too: "The wolf and the lamb shall feed together" (Isaiah 65:25).
And little children will play with wild animals (Isaiah 11:6-9).
Everyone will enjoy long life (Isaiah 65:20).
King Jesus, the Prince of Peace, will then rule this peaceful world. "Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end" Isaiah 9:6,7).
The Peacemaker Himself will compose a new harmonious earth. Our own hopeless search for peace will be "called off." What a day. peaceful day, that will be!
WHAT ABOUT NOW?
We can only have peace through Jesus Christ.
Rom. 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
Phil. 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
IV. The Shepherd's Response vs.15-16
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
1. An Immediate Response
"Let us now go..." vs.15; "And they came with haste..." vs.16
That little word now speaks volumes as to the priority and the urgency with which they viewed their need to go to Bethlehem to see the Saviour.
NOW - While we have the opportunity (Christ is so close, He is in the same country) we may not have another chance.
Isaiah 55:6 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
II Cor. 6:2 (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)
NOW - While it is fresh in our hearts and minds.
There is no time like the present to make your decision for the Lord.
Respond when the Lord is dealing with you. It never gets easier later on.
Illus: People will leave a church service under conviction or turn away at the door without makinga decision, even though they know they should.
NOW - While we could be doing other things. "Who will take care of the sheep?
Theirs was not only an immediate response, but it was also ......
2. A Believing Response
"And see this thing which is come to pass."
Acts 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
John 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
V. The Shepherd's Return vs. 17 & 20
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
Having seen the infant Saviour, the shepherds hearts were overflowing with excitement and joy. They had to tell others as they returned to their flocks. They could not keep it in.
Application: What has Christ done for you? Why keep it to yourself?
But I will tell you a strange thing about an ant. An ant has four pairs of ears: a pair in the head, a pair in the front feet, a pair in the thorax, a pair in the abdomen. When one ant meets another ant, she will lay down whatever she has and the second ant will not pick up anything that belongs to another ant. That is remarkable. I have watched them myself. I carry a magnifying glass when I am out in the woods just to study things. She takes her front feet and feels the head of the second ant and she tells that second ant where she found this bread or this sugar. The scout gets in your pantry, she gets some sugar and starts off. She lays it down and tells every ant she meets where she found that sugar. It isn't long until the whole outfit is coming into your kitchen. What a lesson there is for us, a lesson for honesty. Don't take what belongs to somebody else. And second, tell the story of God's grace--tell where you found the honey, tell where you found the Living Water, the Living Bread. Tell what you found in Jesus Christ. Dr. Walter L. Wilson