Summary: The Story and Application of the Birth of Jesus with the Shepherds as models of application

Lessons From The Shepherds

Luke 2:1-20

* It was during the time when the Roman Empire had stretched her tentacles as far as possible to even absorb the country of Judah when Caesar Augustus decided to take a “census” of the people under his control. He wanted them counted, registered, and by the way, they were to pay taxes for being in this great Empire. The manner in which this was to happen in a little different than what we know today in the USA.

* Every ten years in all its wisdom, the census bureau sends out people to record the pertinent information of all citizens in this nation. Caesar had a better idea. Instead of sending government people out to count, he required every person to return to the city of their heritage and there to take care of this business.

* In Nazareth of Judea (a territory now in the Roman Empire) lived Joseph of the tribe of David whose town was Bethlehem. He was committed to a woman named Mary. The couple had not yet married when through some unusual events Mary discovered that she was expecting a baby. First, this was unusual because the couple had kept their relationship free from immorality. It was also unusual because both of them had seen visions from God indicating this baby would be very special indeed.

* In response to the registration mandate, Joseph loaded up his new bride (now late in her pregnancy) on a donkey for the almost 100 mile trip down to Bethlehem. The trip was planned so quickly and there were so many people in town that the motels were all filled. Finally one hotel manager seeing Mary, 9 months pregnant, fatigued from the journey, and possibly have contractions, offered his barn for shelter and rest. Joseph probably cleaned up the stable and feeding trough to prepare for the baby.

* Giving birth to her boy, Mary wrapped him as warmly as she could in some cloths & laid him in the feeding trough. As the story continues, we know that this baby was Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man born in Bethlehem of Judea.

* The scene changes. Every Father is proud of His Son & God expresses, His own way, & His feelings about Jesus.

* It happened in the hill country nearby. Shepherds were just getting their settled down on what, at least to this point, was a normal starlit night. All of a sudden it was daylight in the middle of a dark night. The light was shining everywhere and the shepherds were terrified. In the midst of the light they saw what they would call an angel. Then the angel spoke and said, “Don’t be afraid, I have good news for you.” Just like everyone else, the shepherd needed a little good news so they listened intently. The angel continued, “A baby has been born over in Bethlehem in a barn and this baby is the Savior which you have been looking for. So if you’ll go look, you will find him in a feeding trough wrapped in poor man’s clothes.” As if that wasn’t enough, this one angel was now joined by untold other angels who were singing, “Glory to God in the Highest and on earth Peace to men.” The song rose to a crescendo until just as quickly as the angel appeared they all disappeared and the quiet of the night replaced the singing of the angels.

* For me, it takes no imagination to think the shepherds, for a moment, sat there in silence. Maybe they were looking and hoping the angels would come back and sing again.

* Then the shepherds begin to talk among themselves. “Wow that was great!” But what exactly was it that the angel had said? A baby? In Bethlehem? In a barn? And did he say the baby was the savior? Maybe we should go and check this out. And they did go, they did check it out, and guess what? It did check out, every bit of it. The baby, the barn, the clothes, everything the angel had said. The shepherd returned to their lives, but they returned changed men. Now, they had a story to tell about this special baby called by the angels, “savior.” They also found a God to praise. Sounds to me like they became men of faith after meeting Jesus.

* What a story! It’s the true, real, authentic Christmas story and it bears our review today. This morning I want to look at and learn from the shepherds. We can discern some interesting lessons from them. I’ll divide our thinking into two main thoughts; 1) Their Response and 2) The Results.

1. Their Response – Can you put yourself in the place of those shepherds and understand their state of mind? All in all things like this didn’t happen every night. In fact, they probably were “wondering” if it had really happened this time. I applaud the shepherds for their response.

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