Summary: The second in a Christmas sermon series
Celebrate and be Glad!
Text: Luke 2:8-20
By: Ken McKinley
Christmas is a time when we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and our text tells us that some of the first people to realize this and celebrate were a group of shepherds outside of the town of Bethlehem. Now most likely these guys were what were called “Temple shepherds.” It was their job to keep the sheep that were going to be used in the sacrifice at the temple in Jerusalem, which was about 8 miles away. We know that because the temple flock was pastured near Bethlehem. Now some people argue over the exact time of the Lord’s birth. Some people say it must’ve been in the Spring, because that’s the most likely time shepherds would’ve been out with their sheep. But that’s not necessarily the case. Winters in Israel brought a lot of rain, and allowed for good grazing, so it very well could’ve been in December; or maybe even in January. But it’s really not important. We’ve set aside December 25th as the day we celebrate the Lords birth. And since we don’t know the exact day, the 25th is as good a day as any.
And like I said last time, God passed over the people that the world thought was important. He passed over the High Priest, He passed over Herod, the religious leaders, the Pharisees, the theologians, the politicians, Rome, Athens and Jerusalem, and instead His Son was born in Bethlehem, in a stable, and when these shepherds came to see Him, there He was lying in a feeding trough. And that’s something we see over and over again in the Bible. Instead of the manly-man Esau, God chose the momma’s boy Jacob, when Samuel goes to anoint the king of Israel to replace Saul, he looks at Jesse’s oldest and thinks, “Surely this is the guy whose going to replace Saul, he’s big and strong,” but it isn’t, so he thinks it’s the next in line, but it isn’t, and so on and so on, until finally David is chosen. Jesus chose 12 of the most unlikely men to be His disciples, and here at the His birth, instead of being born in a palace, He’s born in a manger. God’s ways are not our ways.
Now our text says that when an angel of the Lord stood before them, the glory of God shone around them. That’s the Shekinah glory of God. We see that in the Old Testament when the presence of the Lord was in the temple. It’s the same kind of thing Moses saw on Mt. Sinai in Exodus 24. But God’s glory had departed from Israel. His glory had not been shown in Israel for hundreds of years, and when God finally decides to let His glory be seen, it’s to a group of shepherds out in the fields. In-fact, if my math is correct, it had been over 500 years since the people of Israel had seen a visible manifestation of God’s presence with them. It’s no wonder it scared the ba-jeebies out of them.
I want you to put yourself in their shoes and just think about that for a second. There you are, minding your own business out in the field, it’s very dark, because there were no street lights, or yard lamps, or anything like that. There may have been a campfire, but maybe not, depending. When all of a sudden an incredibly bright light shines all around you, and an angel is suddenly standing before you and he says, “Hey, don’t be afraid…”