Shepherds glorify God

Published 3:12 pm Friday, December 19, 2008

Scripture: Luke 2:1-20

Aim: To help the pupil understand the response of the shepherds to the visit of the angels, who informed them that a “Savior” is born in Bethlehem, Who is “Christ the Lord”.

Golden Text: “And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them” (Luke 2:20).

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The old, old story that is loved so well by Christians everywhere is a story that is ever fresh and exciting. And why should it not be? The Son of God, Jesus the Messiah (Christ), is born of a virgin in a stable. He is come into the world of men that He might “save them from their sins.” It is a story of love, obedience, determination, beauty, commitment and so much more. It is the story of the birth of a Baby. It is a story which foreshadows the harrows of a rugged cross and cruel the death of this Baby. He will pay the penalty for man’s sins. He was promised. Now He is born!

I. The setting is very simple (Luke 2:1-7). The decree from Caesar Augustus is sent out that all the world should be taxed (vs.1). Everyone goes to his own city and area of birth in order to be enrolled on the tax ledger (vs. 2-3). Joseph and Mary go to Bethlehem because Joseph was born there (vs. 4-5). Mary’s term of pregnancy is over. Jesus is born in a stable (vs. 6-7).

II. Shepherds are in the field watching over their sheep (Luke 2:8-9). The time is warm and the grass is fresh and plentiful. The shepherds are bedding them down for the night when suddenly, a gloriously strange event unfolds (vs. 8).

The angel of the Lord comes upon them, and the Lord’s glory shines around them with such brilliance that they become extremely fearful (vs. 9). Now, you just think about it. All is dark and quiet. Suddenly everything is lit up with a brilliance that is brighter than our football fields on a dark night. But, here is the kicker, God’s bright shinning angel is there with them! Scared? Yes!

III. The mission of the angel and God’s heavenly host of angels is revealing (Luke 2:10-14). First, the angel calmed their fears with gentle words of assurance (vs. 10). Second, the angel gives the purpose for this visit to these shepherds in the field. He brings “good tidings of great joy, which shall be for all people” (vs. 10). What are the good tidings?

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (vs. 11). In Bethlehem a baby is born. He is the Savior of men. He is the Messiah Who was promised all through the Old Testament times. He is the “Lord”! Certainly, He is a special Baby.

Further, the angel informs them how they will identify Him. He is wrapped in swaddling clothes (as all babies in Israel), but He is to be found in a feed trough, a manger (vs. 12). The Lord of all men is a Baby, born of a virgin and lying in trough were the animals feed!

Just as suddenly as the angel appeared, a large host of angels appeared saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (vs. 13-14).

At this Christmas season these words are being spoken in many countries, towns and villages by young and old alike. It would be wonderful if at this season all men everywhere will be able to hear and believe the messages of the angel and angels.

IV. The shepherds visit with the baby Jesus (Luke 2:15-20). They arrived and saw the Baby with Mary and Joseph (vs. 15-16). Next, they went about, telling everyone they could find (vs. 17). The response was wonder and awe (vs. 18). Finally, the shepherds went back to their lowly tasks of “keeping the flocks by night” (vs. 20). Do you reckon they got any sleep that night? Probably not!

May we, as the shepherds, go forth telling those around us that we have a Savior, Jesus Christ the Lord. He was born. He has died for our sins. We praise Him and rejoice this Christmas!