December 07, 2016
Characters of the Nativity-Shepherds
INTRODUCTION: Out in the fields a group of shepherds stood guard over their flock that night. Such flocks were always needed for the sacrifices of the Temple at Jerusalem, a mere six miles away. Informed of the birth by an angel, the shepherds went to Bethlehem, found the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger, and excitedly repeated the message they had received. For others, the shepherds’ words were a passing wonder, “but Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).*
By faith we journey with them to Bethlehem. For this good news of Jesus’ birth was given by the angel to shepherds who went to see the new born king.
- With the shepherds we visit the new born king. The shepherds were keeping watch to guard the flock against thieves and marauders. Into the night of the world Jesus came as the true Light. A symbol of this truth was the heavenly light.
A question. Why is it that so few experience the true joy of Christmas? The answer quite frankly is that they have not heard the good news told by the angel to these shepherds. It is told to us this night. The source of our joy is found in verse 11 of our text: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11
Who is born? “To you is born this day a Savior” This is good news to those in need of a Savior. And when is He born? “This day” Christmas is a contemporary experience, not an historical observance of an ancient event. Today is the day of salvation. This is the day the Lord has made. Now He is making all things new.
Transition: “To you is born a Savior”. We now tell His story with joy.
- Like the shepherds we share His story with others. The shepherds were afraid in the face of the divine glory and holiness but they had no need to fear because the angel’s message was not of judgment but of salvation, not only to the shepherds but to all people.
To whom is He born? He is born “to you”. “To you is born this day a Savior.” It is not Christmas for you unless Christ is re-born in you. Thus we can say with the hymn writer: “Cans out our sin and enter in, be born in us today.”
CONCLUSION: The Christmas story is for real. It was to real live humans that the story of the Christ child was delivered. The first announcement of this birth came to a despised people. It came not to the rulers, the educated, the scribes or the pious Pharisees. This news came not to aristocratic elite but to shepherds – the despised, unlearned, crude, rough people listed with publicans and sinners. For He is a real Savior who has come to save real sinners and in His birth, suffering, passion, death and resurrection there is forgiveness, salvation and life.
* Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, The Birth and Infancy Narratives Grand Rapids MI D. G. Stewart editor