Summary: A look at the message the angels delivered to the shepherds, and how the shepherds responded.
It was March 10, 1876, when years of experiments finally paid off. A message of six simple words changed the way we live. With the words "Watson, come here. I want you" Alexander Graham Bell sent the first complete sentence over the telephone and ushered in a whole new era. It was a message that changed the world.
It was July 20th, 1969, 11:56 p.m. AST. Apollo 11 has landed on the moon and Neil Armstrong emerges to be the first man to walk on the moon. His famous message: "That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." And life would never be the same. It was a message that changed the world.
It’s was very first Christmas. An angel appears to some common shepherds in the fields near Bethlehem. "Don’t be afraid! I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David!" This message, more than any other message ever spoken, changed the world and has the potential to transform lives even today.
Here’s what I want us to do this morning. I want us to look at what this message was, how the shepherds responded, and how we’re going to respond to that message today.
The Message Of The Angels:
I. It was a message of Peace. (vv.10, 14)
Now picture this. It’s nighttime and these shepherds were out in the fields minding their own business taking care of their sheep when all of a sudden a great light shone around them and an angel appeared before them. They weren’t expecting it. Chances are it had never happened to them before. It was natural for them to be afraid. Fear would be the expected reaction to an appearance by an angel. So the angel gave them this encouragement:
Luke 2:10 (NLT)
“Don’t be afraid! …I bring you good news of great joy for everyone!”
Instead of being afraid in the presence of this messenger from God, they could be at peace.
Later on, when the angel is joined by others, they join together by saying;
Luke 2:14 (NLT)
"Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors.”
They reiterate that it’s a message of peace.
Well, there are different kinds of peace, so let’s figure out what we’re talking about here.
What kinds of peace are there?
- Political Peace.
Most people desire to have political peace. It’s the absence of war. It’s what we pray for. And especially in times like this with the events of the past year and troops being sent overseas, with the U.S. on the verge of war with Iraq, and with the Gulf War still fresh in our memories, we desire political peace all the more. We think, "If only we could live in peace, everyone would be happy."
It was Harry Truman who said;
"I would rather have peace in the world than be president."
~ Harry Truman, Dec. 24, 1948
But political peace does not mean the absence of hatred or despair. At the time that these shepherds received this message, they were experiencing what was called the Pax Romana (Roman Peace). It was a time of political peace and prosperity. But it was external. And they weren’t satisfied with it. That’s why they were so excited to hear about the birth of the Prince of Peace. The angels proclaimed a deeper, more lasting peace that the Roman government could offer. Because a political and outward peace and prosperity do not satisfy our deepest needs.
We also desire a social peace.
- Social Peace.
We want everyone to agree and get along. But things like that cannot be legislated. Our laws have tried to abolish racial issues, but every once in a while they spring up again. Shera and I moved here from the Halifax area. And just a few years ago our national news coverage focused on racial prejudice and violence in one of the schools in the area.
We’re also dealing with conflicts over language and we’ve got a whole section of our country that wants to separate. There’re the ongoing conflicts between different religions, men and women, rich and poor, and all these social issues that we try so hard to resolve just won’t go away. We can’t as a society solve all these problems. It’s just not going to happen. We can’t find a social peace. But Christ came to bring peace, and he will help us individually to deal with these issues on a personal level so we can enjoy a social peace.
But like political peace, social peace was not the primary peace Christ came to offer. He came primarily to bring us a spiritual peace.
- Spiritual Peace.