Summary: The visit of the shepherds to Jesus on the night of his birth tells us how to celebrate Christmas.
For the next few weeks of advent and Christmas, I plan to share a series of messages on “The People of Christmas.” The substance for this series comes from a book that was authored by the late James Montgomery Boice titled The Christ of Christmas.
Today is the Fourth Sunday of Advent. Later this coming week we will celebrate Christmas. We will celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, which took place a little over 2,000 years ago.
I would like to draw your attention to one of the best known and most loved stories of Christmas: the shepherds who visited Jesus at his birth. I would like to read Luke 2:8-21, although my text for today will be only from verses 17-20.
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 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. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and 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 among those with whom he is pleased!”
15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. (Luke 2:17-20)
Several years ago I attended a missions conference where Steve Saint and Mincaye were the featured speakers. Steve’s father, Nate Saint, was one of the five missionaries who was brutally killed on January 8, 1956 by Waodani warriors in Ecuador, men from the most savage culture ever known. Mincaye was one of the warriors who had killed the five missionaries on that dreadful day.
However, Elizabeth Elliot, wife of Jim Elliot (one of the men who was killed that day), eventually went back to the Waodani and shared the good news of the gospel with them. By God’s mercy, Mincaye and many others repented of their sin and trusted in Jesus Christ for the gift of eternal life.
In time, Steve Saint and his family also went back to live with the Waodani in order to teach them more about God and help them to survive in the modern world. Steve has brought Mincaye to the United States on several occasions. And it was one of these occasions that I was able to hear them both at a missions conference.
Of course, Mincaye’s trips to the United States are completely mind-boggling to him. He has never seen streets and houses, stores and cars, and so much more. Everything is so totally new to him because his world is so different.
I remember Steve telling about when Mincaye went back to the Amazon Jungle and told his family and friends about grocery shopping. Mincaye said, “You go to a really big food house, which is filled with lots and lots of food. Then you take a cart and load it with food. When you are finished loading it with all the food you want, you go to the front of the food house. The only thing you have to do is when you are leaving, you have to go by the place where the young girls stand. They look at you very seriously. But if you just stand there and smile, when they smile back, you can take all your food and go eat it happily.”
At this point Steve felt he should explain that you have to pay for the food. So, he pulled out his credit card and showed it to Mincaye’s family and friends, and said, “You can only take the food after you give the lady a card like this.”