Summary: In today's lesson we learn about the shepherds visiting the baby Jesus, and we should respond to Jesus.
We are studying the life of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke in a sermon series I am calling, “To Seek and To Save the Lost.”
Last week we examined the birth of Jesus. Today I want to look at what happened immediately following the birth of Jesus. Luke tells us that shepherds visited Jesus later on the same day of his birth.
Let’s read about the shepherds’ visit to Jesus in Luke 2:8-21:
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. 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 2:8-20)
In our culture many parents send out an announcement of the birth of their precious newborn child. Sometimes it is simply done via email, letter, or a phone call. Or, many choose to send out more elaborate email-grams or cards.
Pastor John MacArthur notes that “if the announcement of Jesus’ birth had been part of a humanly planned public relations campaign, it would have been handled very differently. The announcement would have targeted the powerful and influential in Israel: the high priest, the members of the Sanhedrin, the priests, Levites, scribes, Sadducees, and Pharisees. Instead God chose to reveal this glorious truth first of all to members of a lowly, despised group.” God first announced the birth of Jesus to shepherds.
Today, I would like to look at the account of the shepherds visiting the baby Jesus in Luke 2:8-21.
So, an analysis of the account of the shepherds visiting the baby Jesus will show us how to respond to Jesus. In Luke 2:8-21 we learn the following about the shepherds:
1. They Watched (2:8)
2. They Wondered (2:9-14)
3. They Went (2:15-16)
4. They Witnessed (2:17-19)
5. They Worshiped (2:20-21)
I. They Watched (2:8)
First, we learn that the shepherds watched.
Luke said that in the same region where Jesus was born, which was Bethlehem, there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night (2:8).
These shepherds were simply going about their regular work. They watched the flock of sheep by night. It was probably a night just like every other night of the many thousands of nights that they watched the flock.
Although there was a time when shepherds enjoyed a good reputation, that was no longer the case. Shepherds were near the bottom of the social ladder. Because they lived and worked out in the fields, they were unable to keep the ceremonial law. Therefore, they were treated as unclean. They were regarded as liars and thieves, and so they were not allowed to testify in a court of law. The people despised shepherds. In fact, with the exception of lepers, shepherds were the lowest class of men living in that day.
So why did God first announce the birth of Jesus to shepherds? Commentator Phil Ryken says that various explanations have been offered.
Some say that the shepherds make a connection with King David, the royal ancestor of Jesus, who was also a shepherd.
Others note that there is a prophecy in Jeremiah that God would send the Savior when shepherds were watching their flocks in the region where Jesus was born. Jeremiah said in Jeremiah 33:13, “In the cities of the hill country, . . . the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, flocks shall again pass under the hands of the one who counts them, says the Lord.” And continuing in verses 15-16, “In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and . . . Judah will be saved.” By fulfilling this ancient prophecy, the shepherds prove that Jesus is the Savior.