Christmas Experiencing the Birth of Christ with the Shepher
Experiencing the Birth of Christ with the Shepherds
Who does God announce the birth of his son to? Too whom would you expect the announcement to go?
>>We could see how God might choose to announce the birth of Christ to Herod the king.
>> We could see how he would want to announce the birth in a splendid ceremony in the Temple led by the High Priest.
++ …But we have trouble understanding why he would choose a ragtag band of shepherds.
The only invitation from God to anyone to come and visit Mary and Joseph and the infant Jesus is to a group of shepherds.
At best the shepherds were common, ordinary folks. They were not the socially elite. Most likely these shepherds were tending their sheep just outside of Bethlehem and the sheep they were tending were probably sheep being prepared for the temple sacrifices. They were the last people that you’d expect God to take notice of.
In the story of God’s announcement to the shepherds are some very important truths.
Begin reading with me: verses 7-9
1. They learned that everyone is important to God
- \\ The invitation of God comes to the most despised of people, outcasts from all respectable society. *
[context} Their honesty and integrity was so questionable that they were not even allowed to testify in a court of law in those days. Shepherds were so far down on the list of social outcast that the only people lower were lepers.
- \\ **I believe that God chose the shepherds because he wanted to show that His love is available to all. *
**He is not a respecter of persons, He does not show more respect to kings than he does to hourly wage earners.
You may think; “If God is even aware that I exist, He probably doesn’t have a very favorable opinion of me!”
Deep down a lot people may feel like that.
But no matter how insignificant you may think you are God knows you and you are important to Him!!!
The Apostle Paul explains this in his first letter to the Corinthians (1:26-28)
“For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. (27) But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; (28) and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,”
2. They Learned That God Has Wonderful News For All Who Will Believe
Note with me that the message that the angel brought from God spoke to their most immediate need when the angel said, “fear not.”
The Bible says that they were “greatly afraid.” When the angelic messenger suddenly appeared the shepherds reacted in a normal human would they were terribly afraid.
You too may have a heart filled with fear this Christmas.
Fear about, your health,
your job security,
the economy, or
the world conditions.
But we need not fear, we have “good tiding of great joy” because the Savior was born.
Because scripture has been fulfilled. Because Christ is LORD over all!!!
Notice too that this news “will be to all people.”
This news is not just for a privileged few.
Scripture says, “Whosoever will let him come.”
Jesus came for pay for the sins of all sinners.
He is available to all!!!!
After the angel reassurance that they need not be afraid verses: 13-14!
There was a heavenly flash and then the shepherds, who are already bewildered, are surrounded by angels!
The words “a multitude” – not fifty, not 150, not 1,500 – but beyond counting. It is amazing to consider that heavenly host stretched from horizon to horizon to witness the most amazing event in the history of the universe.
Then the heavenly host began to sing praises.
Scripture says in Job 38:7 that at creation the angels “sang together and all the angels shouted for joy,” now they join voices again to welcome the birth of the savior of mankind.
>>The sign to them is that they will find the Christ child lying in a manger. No other child was born in a cattle stable that night, no other child’s first resting place was a crude feeding trough designed to feed cattle.
3. They Learned That How You Respond To The Invitation Of God Makes All the Difference
Read: (vv. 15-16)
They could have doubted what they had been told. They could have said, “It can be like we were told. In fact why should we have been told at all. We better just forget about it.”
They could have ignored it.
They could have any number of excuses that would keep them from checking out the story they had just heard. They could have debated it.
They could have sat down and analyzed what they should do.
Could they afford to leave the sheep?
What if something happened while they were gone?
…..Talking, talking and more talking. Sometimes we actually talk ourselves out of responding in faith.
They could have rejected it.
They could have said, “This is not for me! This sounds king of flaky to me.”
We often reject what we think demands too much of us.
But the shepherds chose to believe.
The belief of the shepherds in the message of the angel is shown in their words, they did not say, “Let us go and see if these things are true but “let us now go …and see this thing that has come to pass.”
*It is not enough to hear about Jesus.
**It is not enough to look into the manger and say, “Oh how nice. This touching scene gives me good feelings.”
**** But the truth is that if Jesus were born in Bethlehem a thousand times and not within you, you will still be eternally lost!!!!
*****You can get all sentimental at Christmas, and have a warm fuzzy feeling but if Christ is not born into your heart, it is a mockery of the reason that He came.
4. They Learned That What You Do With The Good News Is Of Great Importance.
Read:(vv. 17-18, 20)
As the first evangelists they did not emphasize what it was like to see an angel, or to hear the angelic choir. Nor did they dwell on how frightened they were. Their main interest was in reporting, “which was told them concerning this Child.”
* It is impossible to live, even for a few moments on this earth and not influence somebody in one way or another. We are always influencing someone, either for good or for bad.
**The last verse of our text says that the shepherds who had seen such wondrous sights had to go back to the ordinary.
That is true for us each year, for the celebration of Christmas is a special time. But when the fun and excitement is over we have to return to our jobs and our responsibilities.
But the shepherds returned so full of what had happened in their lives they could not keep themselves from sharing the good news with everyone they came into contact with!!
What the Shepherds learned at the manger.
1. They learned that they were important to God.
2. They learned that they could know the Savior personally.
3. They learned that God has wonderful news for all who will believe.
4. They learned that when God calls it is up them to respond.
5. They learned that the good news is not something that you can keep to ourself.
A STONY HEART
On February 24, 1948, one of the most unusual operations in medical history took place in Ohio
State University’s department of research surgery. A stony sheath was removed from around the heart
of Harry Besharra, a man thirty years of age. When only a boy he had been shot accidentally by a
playmate with a .22-caliber rifle. The bullet had lodged in his heart but had not caused his death.
However, a lime deposit had begun to form over the
protective covering of the heart and gradually was
strangling it. The operation was a delicate one separating the ribs and moving the left lung to one side. Then the stony coating was lifted from
the heart as an orange is peeled. Immediately the
pressure of the heart was reduced, and it responded by expanding and pumping normally. I feel a
thousand per cent better already," said the patient soon after the operation.
There is a parable of life here.
26 * I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
27 * I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.
Eze 36:24 -29 Verses Eze 36:24 -29 describe Israel's spiritual regeneration. God would cleanse them, give them a new heart and a new spirit (the new birth), and save them from ... uncleanness. Keil comments on this important passage:Cleansing from sins, which corresponds to justification, and is not to be confounded with sanctification ... , is followed by renewal with the Holy Spirit, which takes away the old heart of stone and puts within a new heart of flesh, so that the man can fulfil the commandments of God, and walk in newness of life.When our Lord marveled at Nicodemus's ignorance of the new birth, this passage in Ezekiel is surely one of the main texts that He expected him, as a teacher in Israel, to know (Jhn 3:10 ).
Our hearts develop
a hard protective coating because of accidents and
incidents in life.
They are coated by the deposits of
a thousand deceits and rebuffs.
They are hardened
by the pressure of circumstance. Inevitably, they
become smothered and insensitive to the divine.
+++++Ever so easily we find it easier to sneer than to pray.
- \\ Self-satisfied, proud, often cynical, our hearts need
a spiritual operation that only Christmas can perform
when we dare to surrender our hearts’ burden before
the cradle of Bethlehem.