Summary: God has good news for us. He has given us the greatest gift that can be given. He has called us to the greatest life that can be lived. He has supplied us with the greatest hope that can be desired.
12/21/2014 Reading: Isaiah 11:1-9
Text: Luke 2:8-20
Don't you love a good story?
If there ever was a story that has been embellished with
traditions and celebrations this one takes the cake. The story
of Jesus birth. Last week we looked at Isaiah 9 where the
prophet says, "unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given
and the government shall be upon his shoulders and his name shall
be called, Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace..."
We saw how God often does His greatest works through humble
beginnings, such as the birth of a child. I'm sure all you who
here here last week remember all about this.
Well, this week let’s look at the birth of Christ through Luke's
gospel. And next week we will see what Matthew says about it.
By looking at Jesus birth from the Old Testament first and then
seeing how the gospel writers tell of this event we learn many
things to help us see God's faithfulness and love. This gives us
more assurance today, when our world seems to be moving farther
and farther away from God.
We start with Luke only because he is my favorite. And as we
study we will learn some great things about Luke's gospel that
should help in understanding the rest of this book.
You'll appreciate this, listen to the introduction of Luke from
the Student Bible.
Here's a couple of other things we need to know as we read this
book. Luke 1-2 and 10-19 contain information about Jesus that
none of the other gospels record.
Luke is the most positive writer of the four gospel writers, and
in fact most of the traditional story of Christ's birth is found
only here. Angels singing, shepherds coming to see the baby, the
manger scene, no room in the inn, and why they made the trip to
Bethlehem in the first place. Matthew gives us the star and the
wise men, which Luke did not record. Probably because they did
not come on the night Jesus was born, but only some months
Luke totally ignores the problems of Herod, and the part about
Joseph and Mary's fleeing to Egypt to hide from him. Matthew
gives us that. But like I said, we will see Matthew next week.
There is so much that we could get into here, but I have chosen
to focus on verses 8-20 of chapter 2 for our lesson today.
Listen to this part about the Shepherds and the Angels and follow
along with me, or close your eyes and imagine the scene as Luke
is guided by the Spirit to tell us.
(Read Luke 2:8-20)
These shepherds lived outside. When we were in Romania we saw
some shepherds up in the hills. To this day, shepherds still
live outside with the sheep over there. They have huge sheepskin
coats that they use as a shelter from the weather. We got a
picture of Jenny in one. We had stopped on the side of the road
in the mountains and along comes this wagon pulled by horses and
filled with hay and drunk shepherds. Boy were they friendly...
too friendly. You could smell them coming. A rich blend of
alcohol and B.O. We were sure impressed.
Shepherds are often poor people, but not always. Abraham, Isaac,
Jacob, and David were all shepherds, and none of them were of
poor families. In fact, in Romania, my translator told me that
the shepherds were the richest people in Romania. They just
chose to live in the great outdoors near the earth and the
livestock. So its not that these people just couldn't get a good
job in town, they usually chose to be shepherds, believe it or
not. It is true that a lot of the shepherds even in Jesus day
were among the poor. And many of them never became noted
scholars. In fact, from the history of Jesus day we know that
shepherds had a reputation of being uneducated. The Pharisees
considered them unreliable as witnesses. And as a reputable
means of making a living, shepherding did not rate high in the
days of Jesus.
But God loves shepherds. Jesus identifies himself as the good
shepherd. And when Heaven announced the birth of God's Son the
audience God chose was not a group of the upper elite class, but
instead a group of shepherds watching their sheep at night.
And when He did, it scared them to pieces!
Shepherds have a reputation for bravery. They fight off wolves
and lions and bears and thieves. But this was different. The
whole night exploded into light and glory and unearthly visitors!
Its a wonder any of them were conscious enough to hear what the
angel said. But listen to the words of the angel again... This