Summary: God wants to take all the Herod's and turn them into shepherds and wise men. • But it can only happen if they are willing for it to happen.
We have spent some time during this holiday season talking about how God
• Choose Shepherds to be the recipients of the announcement about His Son being born.
• And when we think about this from a worldly point of view it sounds ridiculous.
• Why would God choose to make this announcement to the lowest of the low?
• Why wouldn’t He choose to tell the important people, the Religious leaders, the media, somebody, anybody, other than Shepherds.
• And yet, this is the way that God’s choose to announce Jesus birth.
• And what we need to understand is that God’s ways are certainly not our ways.
A. (READ Luke 2:8-15)
Somehow, when we hear about shepherds coming to the manger and seeing the Christ-child it makes us feel warm inside.
• Because If shepherds are important to God, then we are important, too.
• God loves the common people, and God loves us!
B. Now let’s look at another very familiar passage in Matthew 2, beginning with
vs. 1. (READ Matt 2:1-12)
What we see here is that the story of the wise men is also a story of love / worship / adoration.
• They represent the important people of the time
• The rich, the educated, the learned.
• We see that these people are valuable to God as well.
• Whenever we think of the shepherds & the wise men,
• It promotes feelings of love & joy & worship.
C. But at the same time when we think of King Herod we see darkness & hatred & death.
• In verse 16 we read this terrible statement,
• "When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, / he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity, who were two years old & under."
Why do you think it is that some people react like Herod did?
• While others react like the shepherds and the wise men?
• Some people are filled with love and happiness,
• While others are filled with darkness and despair?
Now tonight I think we can learn something about this
• As we look again at what these Scriptures tell us about the shepherds, the wise men, and Herod.
• Maybe through it all Christmas will mean even more to us.
I. FIRST WE CAN SEE THAT GOD CAN WORK WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE PREPARED TO RECEIVE HIS MESSAGE
• I think that one of the reasons that God chose to make this announcement to the shepherds and the wise men
• Was because they were prepared, / they were ready. \
• The soil of their souls, / hearts had been plowed It was ready for the good news.
A. I mean Who better to understood the idea of sacrifice than shepherds?
• Do you realize how close Bethlehem is to Jerusalem?
• They are just a few miles apart, separated only by some hills,
• And it's on those hills that the shepherds raised their sheep.
ILL. History tells us that many of the sheep raised on those hills between Jerusalem & Bethlehem
• Were raised with the sole purpose of being used as sacrifices in the Temple at Jerusalem.
• You see, once a year every Jewish family was supposed to come to Jerusalem
• And offer sacrifices in the Temple for their sins.
• And the animal that they sacrificed was generally a lamb.
• And They usually didn’t bring a sacrificial lamb along on the long journey with them.
• Instead, they waited until they got to there and then bought a lamb.
So these shepherds knew about sacrifice.
• They spent their lives on the hills outside of Bethlehem watching little lambs be born.
• They watched them grow up. They watched them mature.
• The whole time realizing that someday a priest would come and buy them
• And take them back to the temple to offer as sacrifices for the sins of the people.
• They realized that sin was so bad in God’s eyes that it required the shedding of blood.
• It required the giving of life.
• So how appropriate is it that these shepherds should be the first to hear about the "Lamb of God" who would be "the Savior, Christ the Lord."
They were ready. Their minds were uncomplicated.
• They weren’t great theologians.
• They didn’t think of reasons not to believe. They just believed.
• Their hearts and their souls were ready.
• And when God spoke through the angels they listened.
• They listened and accepted the news with great joy.
B. The wise men were also prepared.
• Evidently they had studied the great prophets of Israel.
• We aren't for sure where they came from