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Summary: Luke, chapter 2 contains the three kinds of encounters associated with alien visitation: sighting, communication, and making it public. Spinning off from the film, "Close Encounter of the Third Kind", this is an examination of the birth announcement and

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND

Luke 2:8-20

ONE OF THE GREAT EVENTS OF THE 20TH CENTURY took place on July 20th, 1969, at exactly 4:17 P.M., EDT, when the Lunar Module “Eagle” landed on the surface of the moon. The Apollo 11 mission was the first manned mission to land on the moon. It was the 5th human spaceflight of Project Apollo and the 3rd human voyage to the moon.

The mission fulfilled President John F. Kennedy’s goal of reaching the moon by the end of the 1960s, which he expressed during a speech given before a joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961: “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”

That goal was realized when at precisely 10:56 P.M., astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the moon. He was followed shortly by Buzz Aldrin. This was purported to be the most amazing achievement ever by mankind. And of course, Armstrong spoke his famous line "That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

But let me tell you of another leap that was even more amazing. God walked on the earth. He visited this planet to bring deliverance and hope. He didn’t have to take a space ship. At precisely the right time, according to the Father’s timetable, the earth-walk was achieved. Remarkable as it was, Armstrong’s moon venture pales in comparison to what is absolutely the most amazing event ever—the incarnation—God taking on human form. That’s what we celebrate every December. And among His many astounding words were those that echo throughout time and eternity: “I have come to give you life, and that more abundantly” (John 10:10).

In keeping with the theme of space exploration, let me draw your attention to a sci-fi film produced back in the 70’s about visitors from outer space called, Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

First encounter: sighting

Second encounter: communication

Third encounter: making it public

In Luke 2, we have recorded for us the invasion of planet earth by a being from beyond the galaxies—God Himself! In this brief account, we have the shepherd’s reaction to this invasion.

I. FIRST ENCOUNTER: THE SIGHTING (8-17)

The sighting was two-fold. First the shepherds saw the angels and then they saw the babe.

God sent an emissary to announce the arrival. It may have been Gabriel who is known as the angel of good news. God’s way of sending a birth announcement was certainly unique.

The initial reaction on the part of the shepherds was fear (vs.10). The brightness of the Lord shone all around them. Suddenly a vast number of angels appeared and the noise they made praising God (whether singing or shouting, we’re not sure) must have been very frightening and awe-inspiring.

Don’t you find it a bit strange that after this encounter the shepherds didn’t say, “Now what was that all about? What is all this talk of a Savior and Messiah and babe in a manager?” They didn’t react that way because they were looking for Him to come.

The Old Testament prophesied that there would be a time when God would come, in human form, into human history. Centuries before the birth of Christ it was prophesied that when the Messiah was born He would come from the tribe of David and that He would be born in Bethlehem. Contrast this with the reaction of Herod when he heard from the Wisemen that Jesus had been born---he had to call in the religious leaders to find out where it took place (Matthew 2:1-6).

You see, the shepherds were looking for Him and Herod was not. Only those who are longing and searching will really see. Only seekers find. That is a law of God written into the universe.

There are multitudes today who are looking for something to give them peace and purpose. We must announce the good news to them.

The Scriptures tell us that the shepherds hurried to the manger. And why not? At last, that which they had longed for had become a reality. They were privileged to behold the glory of God in the face of the little babe.

Although we can no longer behold Him physically, down throughout the centuries thousands have received Christ by faith. God has become real to them because they know He is like Jesus. We who know Him should earnestly pray that during this season and in the days to come, there will be many “sightings of the Savior.”

An obstetrician approached an anxious father in the waiting room of a New York City hospital and said, “I am sorry to inform you, but your baby lived but two hours after his birth. We did everything we could to save his life.” As the sympathetic doctor was about to leave, the quick thinking father said, “I read only recently that human eyes are needed in cornea transplants. Could my baby’s eyes be used to enable someone to see again?” The next day the Red Cross carried an eye to two different hospitals. In one, a corneal graft restored the sight of a working man with a large family. In the other, sight was given to a mother. A babe, who lived only two hours, gave physical sight to a grateful father and mother. Some 2,000 years ago a Babe come into our sin-darkened world to give spiritual sight to all who will receive it without money and without price. At His coming, “the people that walked in darkness saw a great light.”

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