Summary: A final message in an Advent series looking at the times we are told Fear Not!
December 20, 2015
We’ve been looking at Christmas story passages in which angels say FEAR NOT. Two weeks ago, the angel, Gabriel appeared to Mary. Last week, an angel appeared to Joseph. And this week, we’re going to look at the angel appearing to shepherds.
The fear I want to talk about today is a fear many people have, Where do I stand with God? In other words – Am I good enough? There are times we wonder . . . where we stand with God!
I believe many people grew up thinking they weren’t good enough for God. When you don’t know if you’re good enough, and you think you’re supposed to be good enough, that can be very scary. You know there’s no way you could ever measure up to God’s standards.
And think about this - - - Parents taught this little prayer ~ “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep.” Then comes the freaky part . . . “If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” Then the parents say, “Good night, little Johnny. Sweet dreams. Don’t let the bedbugs bite.” And why do we remind them about bedbugs? So we leave our kids with thoughts about death and bedbugs!
I wonder if it freaks them out? They’re minds are so active and they think about things we never consider. And I wonder if they ever think . . . “God, if I die — wait! I don’t want to die! Why would I die! And if I do, I want to go to heaven — not that other place I can’t say out loud, you know – h-e- double hockey sticks.” Because the image of a child dying doesn’t compute.
So, with that in mind - - - let’s look in Luke 2:8-11 ~
8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.
10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Verse 10 is our key verse . . .the angel said I bring you good news of great joy . . . So, what’s the good news and why do we need a Savior?
First off, it’s interesting who the angel appeared to, because remember the angel didn’t appear to the wise men, that was just a star for them to follow.
Also know – – in that time, when a child was born, if the family had the financial means, they hired a herald. The herald would announce the birth of their child.
Well, that’s what God does. God sent an angel to announce the Good News. But what’s really interesting is who God sends the angel to.
Think about it. If the Son of God is being born on earth, who do you think God would choose to announce that to? I’d think God would go to royalty – “Let’s announce it to the kings. Or, at the very least, let’s go to the religious leaders, to the Pharisees, scribes, and Sadducees.”
But instead, God sends the angel to some shepherds. And you may think, Well, of course, because my nativity scene has shepherds!
But you need to understand shepherds were one of the most disrespected groups of people. The job of a shepherd was so low that a father, if he had to have it in the family, would give it to the youngest son. And it was more often reserved for slaves, because shepherds were uneducated.
According to the religious system, shepherds were rejected. Shepherds weren’t good enough for God, because they couldn’t be made right with God. Shepherds couldn’t live up to the religious rules of the day. And they lived in fear of where they stood with God. They felt distant from God.
They felt distant because they felt unworthy. Many of us would feel this way . . . if you were told and taught and everyone else knew — “You’re not good for God.”
They were nomads, wanderers. Their job took them on the road, like a trucker might go on the road for 10 days before coming home. But a shepherd might be on the road for weeks or months. Because of that, they couldn’t come back to the Temple, and since they couldn’t perform the religious duties, they were declared ceremonially unclean.