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2008.12.21 The Shepherds' Response to God Luke 2 8-20

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The Shepherds’ Response to God

Luke 2:8-20

December 21, 2008


·        Speaking at Temple Christian Academy last spring

·        Can’t remember topic, but I will remember the lead up & intro

·        Routine, principal Wes Harding introducing – police officer…

·        Rules about speaking out, put up hand, etc.

·        Police officer….now he is a shepherd

·        Almost like it was timed or planned ahead.

·        Young boy likely in Grade 1 – lets out the perfect sheep sound….baaaaa, baaaa

·        Well that generated a few laughs…..and Mr. Harding was right I am a shepherd

·        Along with the elders….shepherd the flock here at Peoples – privilege.

·        Today look at real shepherds…and their response to God.


·        Read 2:1-7

·        v.8 - Same region close to Bethlehem; shepherds out in the field with the animals, keeping watch by night. 

·        Shepherds were doing what they were supposd to be doing.(v.8) “In God’s Will”

o       The shepherds were shepherding and it was night time.

·        v.9 – If you can image – there were no city lights around – it would have been dark.

·        Angel of the Lord – a messenger of the Lord – bringing a message to the shepherds.  An angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah the father of John the Baptist; an angel appeared to Mary – specifically named Gabriel. 

·        The glory of the Lord shone around themspeaks of a bright light – this is the bright light that surrounds the presence of God himself, sometimes this is a cloud, or a bright light, or burning fire – but for the shepherds it shone which means that it was a bright light.  This light would have been powerful and all encompassing.

·        They were afraid.  I’m sure that you would be afraid too.  Try and picture yourself there as a shepherd experiencing what they are experiencing.

·        Fear was a common response to supernatural agents or events. 

o       Luke 1:11&12 – visibly shaken, seized with fear

o       Luke 1:26-29 – greatly troubled

·        So the shepherds feared – but just like for Zechariah and Mary the angel says, Fear not or Do not be afraid.

·        v.10, 11 – Have you ever wondered why God would choose to first reveal this good news to shepherds?  Why not the Scribes and Pharisees?

o       First – Jesus would be the Chief Shepherd and to go along with this theme

o       Second – Shepherds were manly men and when they testified that they had seen an angel they would be believed – they were down to earth type of people, they would be believable.  They were not flighty.

o       Thirdly – Shepherds seen as unclean b/c of the animals b/c of their work and they could not readily get to the temple to be cleansed.  So this would mean that God chose to reveal his plan of good news to the unclean.  Shepherds were commoners, workers – not the elite or the enlightened they were not the clean on the outside (Pharisees – ritually clean) – God chose to reveal his plan of salvation to the commoners.

§         Scripture is not clear specifically why shepherds were chosen, but I tend to lean toward the last explanation.

§         This good news of great joy is for ‘all the people’

·        Does not mean salvation for all people

·        Does mean it will be for the Gentiles – those who are known as unclean

§         Unclean Acts 10 – Peter

§         This revealing was not given to the religious leaders, but to shepherds.  This message of good news of great joy.

·        Great joy!!! – the concept of joy often accompanies salvation – good news.

o       Reminds me of the Parable of the Hidden Treasure – Matt 13:44

·        v.11 – For unto you….

o       Savior – only used two times in the gospels (Here and in John 4) The good news is about the Savior that has been born…the Savior who is Christ the Lord – Christ is the Greek word for Messiah – the promised One and Lord denoting this Savior’s Deity. 

o       This good news is more than the thought – I have good news and bad news which would you like….This good news speaks of saving man from his sin, by sending Christ Jesus to save us from the punishment of sin.  This Savior will be our substitute and pay the penalty on our behalf – when we surrender to Him….that’s the good news!!!  We can be united to our Holy God b/c of the sacrifice of the Savior.

·        These shepherds likely never had an angel of the Lord appear to them before, so just to ensure the shepherds didn’t think they were dreaming or hallucinating the angel said, I will confirm my words and direction to you with a sign…this is real…v.12.

·        If that wasn’t enough….v.13 Suddenly…host.

·        Time for a quick survey by show of hands….when I say the word multitude what number comes to mind….

o       Would it be up to 10, 100, 1000, tens of thousand or more.

·        So once again, try and picture this scene – not one angel but let’s say thousands of angels suddenly appear – I picture being in a sports stadium to try and get a mental picture and start praising God saying,

·        v.14 Glory to God in the highest….

·        This is glory to God who is in heaven, to the highest degree he deserves glory

·        And notice it says peace among those with whom he is pleased!

·        This means that peace will be with those on whom his favor rests

·        Peace is not obtained in the absence of war, trials, problems, or hardships – the absence of those circumstances do not ensure peace – true peace only comes from God. 

·        Peace follows justification – Romans 5:1  Peace is a gift to us from God thru Jesus Christ – to those with whom he is well pleased – they will have peace.  You can have peace right in the midst of a trial, true peace comes from God.

·        So it is not peace on earth for everyone, the angels are very specific.

·        God reveals to the shepherds’ and gives direction to them and he desires to us them for His service (v.9-14)  “Revealed Direction”

·        He told them about Christ and where they would find him and a sign confirming what was spoken of by the angel and God desired them to go and proclaim or encourage others with the message they had rec’d from the angel – about the good news.

·        v.15a When the angels….to one another.

o       Can you imagine this scene between the shepherds – the bright light is gone, the multitude of angels have departed back to heaven and they are back in the dark, out in the fields. They are discussing what just happened and what they are going to do about what had just happened.  Can you imagine this conversation…have you ever had one of those…What just happened here? Moments…this was the ultimate what just happened here moments!

·        The shepherds have to consider whether to obey or not (v.15a)

·        v.15b – They say…Let us go…

·        I love the fact that they (commoners, shepherds) recognize that it was “the Lord that had made it known to them” via the angels….the angels were merely messengers of God’s message.

·        v.16 – And they went with haste….

·        First time obedience (v.16) “Obedience”

o       They went with haste, without delay

o       There are a lot of things that we do not want to do hastily – but obedience to God is one thing that we want to act upon right away, w/o delay!

o       First time obedience – Life Action Camp. (No the time I get to 3)

·        v.17 – And when they saw it…Jesus in the manger – the sign – it was confirmed right then, they found what they had been told about…..THEY MADE KNOWN….!!!

·        All who heard it wondered…this word translated wondered is Thaumazo in the Gr. And it means – marveled or amazing.  This wonder that they experienced was not a confusing wonder similar to when you don’t understand what somebody said, like I wonder what he meant by that….no it was wonder and amazement – they marveled at the proclamation and were encouraged by the truth of what the shepherds had said.

·        This proclamation the good news from shepherds, commoners – the unclean – interesting that Christ was born in a stable with unclean animals – he didn’t have the royal, noble birth – it was humble and common.

·        v.18 Mary – treasured up all these things, (she kept them close, she preserved those comments) and pondering them in her heart…The shepherds unknowingly encouraged Mary b/c no doubt she was ridiculed for being pregnant prior to marriage and I’m sure most people would not have understand that she was conceived by the Holy Spirit – so these words from the shepherds which were really from God – confirmed once again, what the angel Gabriel had told her about Jesus and this pregnancy.  That’s amazing.

·        The shepherds were faithful to proclaim or to share what God had revealed to them.  Thereby encouraging others by their words and ultimately encouraging others through their obedience (v.17, 18) “Faithfulness/Proclamation”

·        v.20 and the shepherds returned….

·        They glorified and praised God (v.20) “Praise & Glory to God”

·        The shepherds have given us a pattern of following God…look at the words in Quotes in your handout…

o       “In God’s will”

o       “Revealed Direction”

o       “Obedience”

o       “Faithfulness/Proclamation”

o       “Praise & Glory to God”

·        Practical Examples

·        God’s Will – you are not perfect, but you are a believer and striving to live for God.  If you are in God’s will you are prime for revealed direction.

·        Revealed Direction – what does that look like?

o       Well most of us will never have an angel of the Lord appear to us, let alone a multitude of angels giving us direction…in fact it will be more likely that it would be the opposite – you may be by yourself interacting with the Word

§         Scripture –reveal direction, in fact all revealed direction must align itself with Scripture, if it doesn’t then it is not from God

·        For example: is someone said to me, that God told them to leave their wife….ie Randy & Paula White….

§         God can use the time while you are reading the word while you are offering your devotion to Him….to challenge you and reveal to you…it happened to me this week with words – James 3.

§         Person in your life – mentor, discipler, marriage mentor, small group leader, preacher – they challenge you

§         Circumstances - economic

§         H.S. –

·        "Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God." (1 Corinthians 2:12, ESV)

·        "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." (John 14:26, ESV) & John 16 says, that the Spirit will guide you into all truth.

§         So however God chooses to reveal to us varies, but none the less he reveals to us all the time, if we are willing to listen and respond.

·        Obedience – following God’s will right away, following through with obedience and showing our love for Him through our obedience – with haste.

·        Faithfulness/Proclamation – I say faithfulness b/c not always will you be proclaiming a message, but you may be faithful to fulfill what God has challenged you in.

·        Lets looks at

Marriage – selfishness (Phil 2) – obey - faithful (tangible ways) – results in P&G

o       From spouse, person, mentor

- disobey – you remain selfish and in that area you are outside of God’s will for your life

·        There are several of these patterns happening simultaneously in your own life and in others’ lives – nothing is too complex for God.  All these patterns are designed to bring him glory.

·        Let’s return to the text in Luke 2 & a little from Matthew and see some of these simultaneous patterns taking place and how they interact for the glory of God:

o       Joseph – following God, Mary becomes pregnant (not from him) and he is going to divorce her quietly, angel of the Lord appears to him and tells him not to divorce Mary – that the H.S. has conceived her…he decided to obey the angel of the Lord and is faithful to the reveal direction….

o       Mary – following God – you have found favor with God – Gabriel you will conceive of the H.S and call his name Jesus he shall be great, throne of David, reign forever and his Kingdom will never end – he will be born the holy Son of God – she is faithful despite likely much ridicule…for this pregnancy, which would have appeared to be out of wedlock.

o       Shepherds – who we already looked at but they play a part….

o       Simeon – righteous and devout man, the H.S. revealed to Simeon that he would not see death until he had seen the Lord’s Christ, when Jesus was brought into the temple by Joseph & Mary – read Luke 2:27-33 listen to how all these patterns enmesh.

o       The shepherds were faithful to proclaim, Simeon was faithful to proclaim.  When we proclaim we don’t know what God is doing in others’ lives and how our words or actions or our faithfulness…how that will impact others.  God is like an orchestra director of millions and He is orchestrated “patterns” simultaneously for millions and millions that play music together for his glory.

o       Joseph and Mary were encouraged by what God was doing in Simeon’s life, which was unknown to them, Mary was encouraged by the shepherd’s faithful proclamation – The shepherds were encouraged b/c they found Jesus in Bethlehem, in the manger in swaddling clothes and Joseph and Mary were faithful to participate in the census which resulted in the being in Bethlehem and so on and so on.  

o       This about what God has been revealing to you – how are you doing with your obedience and faithfulness?

o       This is the amazing God that we serve!!!!  Who orchestrated before the beginning of time that His Son would come to save man from his sins, to unite a holy God to man who had sinned – we are only purified through Christ’s sacrifice – the Christ child was born in the flesh so that he could be an acceptable substitute for man….to take the punishment for man.  Our sin separates us from God and we need to be saved from the consequences of our sin which is death – that only comes through faith in Jesus Christ.

o       You see even Salvation follows this same pattern – except the first step which is living in God’s will, but after that – RD, O, F/P, then P&G to God.

o       For those of you who do not know Christ – I have presented the good news to you today – about your need for Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord – now you will decide this morning if you will obey - God is reaching out his arm to save you this morning from drowning in your sin - or maybe you will choose to reject his saving hand – that decision will shape the rest of the pattern and the rest of your life.  It is the most important decision you will ever make.  You can decide to obey today – God is opening up the door to salvation for this morning will you respond in faith.

o       Let’s pray.

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