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Advent: Obedient Messengers

Advent 2019  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Through God's use of the most unlikely messengers and their obedience to the call of God, the message of Jesus' arrival was spread far and wide. May we also be just as obedient and humble to God's call to us.

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Introduction

Good morning everyone!
If you will turn back in your Bibles to .
In just a few moments we will be looking more closely at the Advent Scripture from this morning.
And as you have probably already noticed this passage is actually part of what we know as the “Christmas story,” that tells of the circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ.
And there are lots of parts and pieces of this story, but what we are going to be focusing on this morning are the messengers.
Those lowly shepherds who were out in the field and who were given the charge to deliver the message of Jesus Christ and His arrival to all they came into contact with.
Jesus’ arrival could have been announced by great Kings, Jewish leaders, even the angels on high, but God chose a different path.
God chose a different way.
God chose those who are probably the least significant of people to perform this momentous duty.
To carry out a task that the message of has been passed down from generation to generation ever since.
And not only did God choose them, but they accepted the challenge they were given.
They accepted the task and ran with it (literally).
They didn’t make excuses about how they were unqualified.
They didn’t make excuses about how they were too busy.
God called and they answered.
Which of course is what God wants us to do also.
So, as we go through this passage this morning, start thinking about what God has called you to.
What message has God given you to deliver?
Are you willing to deliver the message, to do the work of the ministry, to be God’s shepherd?
Because we can tell nice, feel good Christmas stories all day, but if we are unwilling to follow the One the stories are about, they are just that, stories.
And Christmas becomes nothing more than just another commercial holiday to boost the economy and pad some pockets.
So, if you have found in your Bibles, I’d invite you to stand with me if you are able as we read about the shepherds.
Luke writes, starting in verse 8 . . .

Scripture Focus

Luke 2:8–20 NIV - Anglicised
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields near by, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 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. 11 Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests.” 15 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.” 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Do Not Be Afraid of the Job (vs 8-14)

Now, like I mentioned this is only part of the Christmas story found here in Luke.
We pick up in verse 8 and go through the rest of it in verse 20, but for the whole story you have to start back in verse 1 that talks about Mary and Joseph and why they were even going to Bethlehem to begin with.
And Jesus is actually born in verse 6-7 before we even get to our passage.
But again starting out in verse 8, Luke writes . . .
Luke 2:8–14 NIV - Anglicised
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields near by, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 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. 11 Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests.”
Luke 2:8-
So, lets break it down just a bit.
These shepherds, who by all accounts were the lowest of the low of society.
They were necessary to the success of the society so the people “tolerated them.”
And what I mean by that, the rest of the Jewish people—the upity ones—knew that the shepherds had a job but they didn’t want to associate with them.
And the reason for this is because the shepherds dealt with dirty old sheep all day and night.
They were out in the fields tending to the sheep, protecting them, sometimes from themselves, but they were not very high on the social food chain.
But when you think about it, they were the perfect messengers.
They were loyal to their calling.
They loved their sheep and were dedicated to them.
They would go to great lengths just to protect even the least of the flock.
They were actually everything that a boss would look for in a good employee: loyal, dedicated, hardworking, honest—all qualities that are rare in the world today.
And they were also loving.
They didn’t take care of the sheep just to get a paycheck, they actually loved their sheep.
They had raised them since they were little bitty lambs and they knew that the sheep needed help just taking care of themselves.
And it was this love that caused them to even be out keeping watch over their flocks at night, as verse 8 points out.
And during just one of those nights, out of the blue, unexpectedly....
Luke 2:9 NIV - Anglicised
9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
Luke 2:9
And the word “terrified” here really doesn’t do justice about how scared they really were.
It would be literally so scared they were in shock and unable to move—they were frozen with fear—the closest you could come to being so scared you actually died.
Which is actually pretty reasonable given the circumstances.
Put yourselves in their shoes.
Have any of you ever seen an angel of the Lord?
They hadn’t either.
And it just wasn’t the appearance of the angel either.
The Bible says that the glory of the Lord shone around them, meaning God’s actual presence was there with them.
And their fear was that the angel was there to strike them dead.
So the angel recognizes this and tells them . . .
Luke 2:10
Luke 2:10 NIV - Anglicised
10 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.
Luke 2:10–11 NIV - Anglicised
10 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. 11 Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
In other words, “calm down boys, I’ve not come to destroy you, I’ve come to give you a message.”
In other words, “calm down boys, I’ve not come to destroy you, I’ve come to give you a message.”
And that message . . .
Luke 2:11 NIV - Anglicised
11 Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
And even though these shepherds were not Jewish elites, they were still Jews and they still understood the stories and prophecies about the coming Christ, the Messiah.
And now here is an angel of the Lord coming to tell them about it.
Not proclaim it in the King’s palace or shout it from the sky.
But to tell a bunch of lowly shepherds out in the field one dark night.
But why, why did the angel come to tell them?
Because He had a job for them.
The angel goes on . . .
Luke 2:12 NIV - Anglicised
12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
And we often miss the overall point that the angel had for visiting the shepherds.
And it’s because nowhere in Luke is it written, “go and deliver this message...”
However it is implied that this is what the Angel actually told them to do because the angel told them where and how to find Jesus.
So, a more complete modern translation would read something like, “I’m here because I have a message for you. That message is that the Messiah has been born. And because He has come, I have a job for you. That job is to go to Bethlehem, confirm His birth, and then spread the message.”
And just to drive the point home . . .
Luke 2:13–14 NIV - Anglicised
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests.”
Luke 2:13-
A sight so glorious that we couldn’t even imagine.
But now these shepherds had a decision to make.
Will they go and find the baby like the Angel told them?
Will they spread the message?
After all the rest of the people will think they are crazy.
They will think these shepherds had been partaking too much wine out in the field.
After all they are way too busy anyway with all of these sheep to take care of.
Also, it’s too important of a job for them to do anyway, someone more “qualified” should do it.
All of those things going through their head.

Let’s Go and See (vs 15-20)

But look what they decide to do . . .
Luke 2:15–20 NIV - Anglicised
15 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.” 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Luke 2:15-
No sooner than the angel left them, they had their mind made up.
They didn’t even have to debate or discuss it amongst themselves.
They didn’t care how busy they were.
They didn’t care how “unqualified” they were.
They said .. . “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about!”
And they didn’t waste any time going either.
They didn’t give themselves time to change their mind . . .
Luke 2:16 NIV - Anglicised
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.
Luke 2:16
So, they found everything just as the angel had told them.
And not only that but . . .
Luke 2:17–18 NIV - Anglicised
17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
Luke 2:
They did exactly what they said they would do.
They answered the call God had given them.
And because of these shepherds we have what we will read this Christmas and every Christmas, the Christmas story

Altar Call

Which brings us to our conclusion for this morning.

The message this morning is about being obedient to the call, no matter what.
It is about first hearing the call of God.
Then choosing to answer the call.
Then staying true to the call we have accepted.

Altar Call

One verse I didn’t cover was verse 20 that reads . . .
Luke 2:20 NIV - Anglicised
20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
See, they didn’t stop right after they had received the call.
They didn’t go around Bethlehem, tell a few folks and go on their way.
No, God got hold of them and God changed them forever.
And because of that they couldn’t stop spreading the word.
They told everywhere, everywhere the message from that day forward.
Now, they didn’t quit their jobs as shepherds and go on the road.
It was actually the opposite.
The Bible says they returned, meaning they went back to the fields, back to the sheep, but they were not the same.
From that point on in every interaction they had with others, if the opportunity arose, they shared the message of the Messiah.
And that is what God wants from us.
Like I said last wee, God is not going to call all of us to pastor churches or to foreign missions.
But God has given all of us, whom He has touch, whom He has transformed a mission and a message.
And that mission is to share the Gospel whenever and where ever he calls us to do it.
We share the Gospel in how we live and what we say.
He has called us to not make excuses about why we cannot do the things inside and outside the Church he has called us to.
He has called us to not worry about how “qualified” we are.
He has called us to be obedient.
So this morning, what mission has God given you?
What message has God given you?
And what are you going to do about it?
And just sitting in the pew doing nothing, is no different than rejecting God and rejecting His call.
Will you reject Him this morning?
Will you reject that call?
Or will you answer, yes Lord I will follow.
And for those who have not accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, the first call is that of repentance to salvation.
Will you do that this morning?
The altar is open and choices will be made, what will your choice be today?
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