Summary: Now, we are wrapping up our series on fear. Three weeks ago we looked at Zechariah, a saintly old man who had lived his life with unanswered prayers. Two weeks ago, we looked at Mary. The angel told her not to be afraid of God changing her plans for her l
FEAR OF GOD
TEXT: Luke 2:8-20
8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.
10 Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.
11 "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
12 "And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger."
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"
15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us."
16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.
17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.
18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.
20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.
I found a website called Funny Historical Accounts. It tells the unfortunate story of 24-year-old Danny Simpson of Ottawa, Ontario. In 1990 Mr. Simpson was given six years of imprisonment for robbing a bank of $6,000. In the robbery, he used an old Colt .45 pistol. He was arrested and the gun was impounded by the police.
What’s funny is that the police recognized the gun as an extremely rare collectors’ item. It was made under license by the Ross Rifle Company in Quebec City during WW1, one of only 100 Colt .45’s ever made there. The gun was worth between $100,000. Mr. Simpson could have walked into any gun shop and sold the pistol for at least ten times as much, and likely much more, from his raid without breaking the law.
If he had just known what he carried in his hand, he wouldn’t have robbed the bank. In other words, Danny already had what he needed.
After reading this, I thought, “I wonder if that’s how we are, too.” I wonder if most of us, any of us, have any clue to what we are entitled to. I wonder if the majority of us live way below God’s abundance for us. I wonder how differently we would live if we were aware of God’s presence in our lives. Let me use the story of the shepherds to explain. Let’s read Luke 2:8-20 again.
Now, we are wrapping up our series on fear. Three weeks ago we looked at Zechariah, a saintly old man who had lived his life with unanswered prayers. He saw an angel, and the good news was that God had heard his prayers. So don’t be afraid of your doubts and struggles.
Two weeks ago, we looked at Mary. The angel told her not to be afraid of God changing her plans for her life. At times they would be scary and unsafe, but they would still be good. After all, Jesus coming into the world was good for us all. So don’t be afraid of God changing your plans.
Last week we looked at Joseph. He was told in a dream not to be afraid of how things looked. Things sometimes look pretty bleak and grim, but God knows more than we do about everything. So don’t be afraid of appearances.
Today we are looking at the shepherds, the unlikely spectators to a wonderful event – the arrival of the Son of God. Now, let’s look at these guys and what their role in this story is. They were keeping watch over the flocks of sheep by night. Now, some scholars feel that the sheep were usually brought under cover from November to March; as well, they were not normally in the field at night. But there is no hard evidence for this. In fact, early Jewish sources suggest that the sheep around Bethlehem were outside year-round. Which all means that this could have happened in December, but maybe not.
Further, these guys had an important job, but it seems they were not exactly the upper level of society. I mean, they weren’t looking after ordinary sheep. The sheep these guys took care of were sacrificial sheep. These sheep would end up in the spring as sacrifices for Passover, the day set aside to remember God sparing His people from death while in Egypt. It was an important day with tremendous meaning, a sacred and holy day.