Christmas story is one of the best ever known.
The story of these shepherds is no different.
We heard the story as we celebrated Christmas in our homes.
We have told the story probably untold number of times.
Yet, it message is one of the sweetest we will ever hear for the
message of these shepherds is Jesus is near.]
[So, Lets consider this again the story of "A Night For
Notice Of These Shepherds,
Their Employment (vs 8) [-
And there were in the same country
shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. -
What can we know about these Shepherds in the field?]
Familiar [ - They weren't so
different from us. They
were not extraordinary people they were just ordinary men.
Shepherds were hard working and often unappreciated folk. In our text we
are told that they were out in the field keeping their sheep by night. They were
just like many in this sanctuary today; they were just ordinary people working
hard to provide for their families.]
Bethlehem - We also discover in our text that they were “in the
same country” so we know that they were close to
Bethlehem, the birth place of our Lord.
Their families were likely residents of
of the countryside surrounding the little town.]
Lives Were Full
[These men were engaged in their regular lowly work.
Shepherds were not highly esteemed to the point that the “Talmud equated them
with the heathen, would not allow them to be witnesses in court, and forbid
giving charity to them.”
The Shepherds were a definite contrast to the wise men who would travel
from the east to worship the one born king of the Jews.
The undeniable testimony of Scripture is that the Lord Jesus Christ was
available to the rich and powerful as well as to the poor and despised.
Whoever you may be, however you view yourself, the Lord Jesus Christ is
available to you.]
[They certainly had many things demanding their time.
The likely had families and children to
support and raise. They certainly
had wives to care for and protect.
They likely had parents to honor and possibly provide support for.
They were busy people working hard to take care of all of the concerns of
their lives and the lives of those who depended upon them.]
Fears (Matt 2.13-18) [- These men struggled with their circumstances
just as we struggle with our circumstances.
These men were not afraid of the night, these were seasoned men of the
night. Yet their fears were similar
to ours. The contrast that
surrounded them on this dark night revealed much of the struggle they faced.
They could see:]
– As they listened to their flocks and strained to lookout over their sheep
in the dark night they could certainly see
off in the distance. There were
likely little glimmers of candles and perhaps an occasional torch that would
help them to discern the silhouette of the city in the darkness.
That little town of Bethlehem reminded them of their families and
[They had a home to care for.]
[A wife and children to cloth and feed.]
[A community to protect]
[All of the normal cares of working families.]
[The Herodian –
Likely a far more prominent and ominous feature of the night sky would have been
the Herodian. The Herodian was one of the opulent, towering palaces of Herod the
Great and represented their cultural struggles.
This palace and stronghold of the regional king Herod the Great would
have been well lit and well guarded. It was clearly visible from
and would have drawn the gaze of the shepherds as ones eyes are naturally drawn
to light when in the darkness. It
would have been far easier to see the Herodian than it would have been to make
out Bethlehem in the darkness.
The Herodian represented,]
[Herod the Great
was the tetrarch of Judah,
bore the title King of the Jews by Rome,
who reign for 37 years in the region.]
and jealousy led to the murder of several of his children and the execution of
[Herod’s Scandals -
We remember Herod as the one who would kill all the babies in Bethlehem of two years old
and younger because he thought Jesus would take his throne (Matt 2.13-18).]
Their Enlightenment (vs 9-14) [- These
ordinary men were faced with extraordinary circumstances.
A Divine Manifestation
(vs 9; Exo 34.35; Psalm 104.2; 8.5) [-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. -The glory of the Lord – like the
Shikinah Glory – In the midst of the darkness there was suddenly the brilliance
of an angle who manifested the bright glory of the Lord.
Our Lord is glorious, brilliant in his holiness and glory.
Brighter than the brightest star, more glorious than the sun on a clear
day. Those who are his and
represent Him manifest the glory of his commission.
This angel appears with all the authority and glory of almighty God.]
[As Moses face shone (Exo 34.35) – Moses stood in the
presence of God and when he returned to the people from the mount where he stood
in the presence of God the glory of God emanated from Moses face.]
34:35 And the children of Israel
saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face shone: and Moses put the
vail upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him. ]
[As mankind was once clothed (Psalm 104.2; 8.5) – The
Bible seems to suggest that mankind was once clothed with light and the glory of
God, just as God is,]
Who coverest thyself with light
as with a garment: who
stretchest out the heavens like a curtain: ]
For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels,
and hast crowned him
with glory and honour. ]
[One day, in the near future we will come to
understand the brilliance of the shroud of God’s glorious light when we will
stand in the vary presence of Almighty God and will receive of His glory for His
glory. We will shine brighter than
the brightest star in heaven.]
[These shepherds stood in the presence of those who
stood in the actual presence of Almighty God, and their manifestation of the
glory of God illuminated the dark sky.
Needless to say, these angles had seized all of the attention of these
humble shepherds. The bible states
that these veterans of the dark night were now sore afraid.]
The Angelic Proclamation
(vs 10-12; Act 10.34-35; Rom 10.13;
Ezekiel 37; Rom 6.23; John 3.16) [-
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. - What
did the angel proclaim?]
[The message was one of
good news and
(vs 10; Ezekiel 37) - ". . . I bring you good tidings of great joy. . ."]
[The message God provides is intended to bring glory and joy to
[The message God gives is one of new life in Jesus Christ - As
God stirred life into the dry bones of Ezekiel 37, so He brings new life into
wandering lives through Jesus Christ.]
was for all people (vs 10, Acts 10.34-35; Rom 10.13) - ". . . Which
shall be to all people." ]
[For every nation -
As Peter told all that were gathered at Cornelius' house.]
10:34-35 Then Peter opened
his mouth, and said, Of a
truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
35But in every
nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with
[The Message was for the shepherds around
and the wise kings who would soon arrive from the far east.
This savior was the savior of all the world.]
[For every person.]
call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. ]
[The despised as these shepherds could come as well as
the gentiles who were despised by the Jews.
All men from all places would find a Savior in the Lord Jesus Christ and
so will you, if you will seek Him as your Lord and Savior.]
[The message was of the birth of a Savior (vs 11;
Rom 6.23; John 3.16) - For unto you is
born this day in the
city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.]
[There is hope for sinners, lost and undone in their sin.]
[You no longer have to pay the penalty for your own sins -
Which is death in hell.]
[A Savior has come and taken the penalty you owed for you, if
you will just accept Him as your Savior and Lord - Jesus Christ.]
Heavens Affirmation (vs 13-14) [- Then
suddenly, with this angel there was the heavenly host proclaiming "Glory to
God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."]
[All the angels of heaven affirmed the glorious,
gracious act of God. The birth of
Jesus was the unfathomable incarnation of Almighty God.
The hope of heaven had come to lie in a manger and was heralded by
heavens angelic host.]
[Then just as suddenly as it had all began there was
darkness, utter silence, and stillness.
Slowly the breeze was felt again.
A sheep began to bleat. The stars began to come into focus and
The Herodian was in view.]
New Fear - I often wonder what must have ran through those shepherds
minds. If they had seen and heard
all of this glory and heralding, did Herod and his guards hear?
What if they did? How could
they miss it? Should we go as see
this Christ child? Is Herod already
on his way? If we go, when we get
there will Herod men already be there?
Would this despot who killed his own wife and children kill this Christ
child and all who would seek him?
This is the same fear that all who come to Christ must face and answer.
Is the Lord Jesus Christ
and the eternal life He offers worthy risking everything in your life for?
How do you suppose these shepherds responded?]
Their Enthronement (vs 15-20)
They Sought the Savior
(vs 15) [- "Let us now go even to
Bethlehem , and see this thing which is come to pass,
which the Lord has made known unto us."]
["Wise men still seek Him"]
[Their first words were "Let us now Go"]
[Perhaps you are here today because you too are seeking the
Savior, Jesus Christ. God wants you to find Him.]
[They reckoned they had heard from God (vs 15) - " .
. .which the Lord has made known unto us."]
[They did not say, "Which the angels have made known unto us."
They knew this message was from God through the angels.]
[Do you hear God in this message this morning?
You cannot come to God through Christ until you first hear from God
through His messengers. Do you hear
God calling out to you? He is!
These shepherds heard God and went to find the Lord Jesus Christ.]
They Found A Manger (vs 16; Jer 29.13)
[What a strange place to find the creator, sustainer,
and redeemer of all creation.]
[However, They sought
the Savior, and they found the Savior.]
[When you seek Jesus, you will find Jesus.]
29:13 And ye shall seek me, and
find me, when ye shall search
for me with all your heart. ]
They Experienced The Transformer
(vs 17-20; 2 Cor 5.17)
["Whenever someone really meets the
they will never be the same again."]
[They left the manager different than they were when
they came to the manger.]
[When you come with a pure heart and a single mind to
Jesus Christ, He comes into your life, you are adopted into His eternal and
divine family, and you will never be the same again.]
[2 Cor. 5:17
Therefore if any man be in
Christ, he is a new creature:
old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. ]
[Oh, to have been a shepherd
The night that Christ was born!
To have heard the hallelujahs
And that angelic horn!]
[To have crossed the plain to
With sandals on my feet;
To have touched the hand of God's own Son
Where He lay upon the wheat!]
[To have seen the bright heraldic star;
To have found the manger place;
To have seen the cattle kneeling
And Mary's shining face!]
[Oh, to have been a shepherd
The night that Christ was born;
To have carried in my heart for life
The glory of that dawn!]
[-Dorothy Evelyn Begg]
Church, December 21, 2008