Have you had something happen to you that you were so excited about that you just couldn’t wait to tell someone? Maybe you recently did really well on an exam, or you got a really good grade in a class. It’s so much fun to be able to share exciting things with others and have them celebrate with you.
We are now in the Grandparent stage of life. Not sure how we got to be that old. I don’t feel that old. My brain says that, but my body does sometimes remind me that I am not so young. But, we recently heard the news that both our married kids each have a child on the way. This will be grandchildren 3 and 4 for us! That’s exciting for them… and for us. They wanted us to be one of the first ones to know! That kind of news just has to be shared!
Do we get as excited about the greatest news of all? The GOOD NEWS that will bring GREAT JOY to ALL PEOPLE? The shepherds certainly did!
The Passage: Luke 2:8-20
Luke 2:8-9 8And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.
For more than 500 years the nation of Israel had been without the visible sign of God’s presence among His people. Now the glory, the Shechinah glory, appeared for the first time since its departure from Israel in the days of Ezekiel (Ez 8-11). God used the Shechinah glory to announce the birth of the Messiah, not to the priests in the temple, or to nobility, but to unclean, despised, uneducated, lowly shepherds.
Naturally, they were terrified when they saw God’s glory. No doubt, they thought they were going to die, since God had said, “There shall no man see me and live.” (Exod. 33:20 KJV).
But the message the angel brought was one of encouragement and hope!
Luke 2:10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
The angels message inspired hope in 3 ways.
- I bring GOOD news. This was not a message of judgment or of condemnation. This was GOOD news.
- This message was to bring GREAT JOY! it’s been 500 years since Isreal had experienced the presence of God! Now, God was announcing to these lowly shepherds that what they had all been waiting for has come! (Luke 2:11)
- This message is not just for Israel. What God was doing was for ALL people in all the world!
Luke 2:11 “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
The angel’s message was clear! This child, this baby, IS the promised Messiah! He is born in the City of David. He is Christ the Lord!”
Can you imagine hearing that from an angel with God’s Shechinah glory lighting up the sky in the background! The shepherds didn’t question, they didn’t doubt the message. By faith they believed what the angel said.
Luke 2:12 “And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
The angel gave 2 conditions of the sign which was to prove his message.
- The baby would be wrapped in “swaddling clothes.” Fruchenbaum and Pentecost both indicate that these could not be merely baby clothes because that would not be a sign. It’s likely that these strips of cloth, the swaddling clothes, gave the appearance of burial cloth.
- The baby would be “lying in a manger.” The angel called the humble setting a sign. This was not normal! What God did there was unusual. The son of God would be born in a cave that was used by shepherds to provide shelter for their sheep. Fruchenbaum comments, “The fact that the baby was lying in a manger told these shepherds not to look in the private homes of Bethlehem, but to look inside a cave that was used as a stable. Professional shepherds would know where these stable-caves were located.”
Luke 2:13-14 13And 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 among those with whom he is pleased!”
The text does not say they sang. It simply says they were praising God, and saying; it was a verbal proclamation. The angel gave praise to God, and proclaimed peace to man through what God had accomplished.
Luke 2:15-16 15When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.
The shepherds heard the angels message and believed without doubt. Their faith was followed by immediate action. “Let’s go and see!” So, they went in “haste.” They couldn’t wait to see the fulfillment of everything they had longed for! The long awaited savior, the Messiah! The chosen seed of David. Their faith motivated them to action.
Luke 2:17-18 17And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.
When they left, they carried God’s word to everyone they saw. They were so excited about what they saw, they bubbled over with excitement and just had to tell everyone they met, so they too could see and know the savior.
Those who heard and witnessed their lives, wondered and marveled at what they heard. (Luke 2:17) That’s God in action through men. This is man as God intended man to be. The shepherds were available, and excited to go and be God’s mouth piece. They didn’t care what people thought of them, or how people looked at them. They proclaimed in faith, what they had heard and seen.
Luke 2:19-21 19But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. 21And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
The people wondered, but Mary treasured the words of the Shepherds!
Like we saw with Mary and Joseph, as people witnessed the faith of the shepherds, it caused them to wonder. Some wondered in amazement. Some wondered with criticism and doubt. But, regardless of how the message was received, they faithfully, joyously, and without reservation, proclaimed it. Then shepherds returned glorifying God for all they heard and seen
(What was God doing? Why is this written?)
The faith displayed in these early stories of the gospels continues to inspire me. The shepherds, although considered to be the outcasts of society and ceremonially unclean, God chose to bring His message to them first. They received it by faith and their faith motivated them to immediate action! When they saw the reality of the message, they went and proclaimed it to everyone they ment. They didn’t care what people thought of them, or how people looked at them. They proclaimed in faith, what they had heard and seen.
There’s a great evangelistic challenge here. God’s message is still good news today! His message of salvation will bring great joy. This message is for all people! Israel was given the treasure of God’s Word, with the intention for them to share it with the world. But they horded it. Regardless of how people receive the message, we should be so excited about what God has done for us that we are motivated to share it with others so they can believe also and not horde it for ourselves.
I think there is also a challenge for a daily walk with God. What is God teaching you that He wants you to share with others? How do you respond when God shows you something in His Word? How excited are you to proclaim the message God gives you?
Are you like the people the shepherds encountered who heard the message and wondered in skepticism, or are you like Mary who saw everything going on and treasured what she saw.
(What can we learn from this? What is God saying to me and my life from this passage?
- God’s message of salvation is good news to give great joy to all people! What are you doing to proclaim it? Are you available to be God’s mouth?
- What have you seen God do? What have you heard from God? He wants you to proclaim what He shows you. God continues to challenge me to be sharing what He is teaching me. I am glad I can share with you all.
- God’s Word should be a treasure to you! Matthew 6:21 reminds us that where our treasure is, that’s where our heart will be also. Is God’s Word a treasure to you?
The Power; Declarations of Truth:
- God wants to speak to me every day! His message to me is always good for me. It will bring me joy. But He then wants me to share what He is saying with others.
- It doesn’t matter how people receive my message, or whether they respond, God wants me to faithfully proclaim His message.
- The truths God shows me are things to be treasured!