Summary: God’s inclusion of the shepherds in the Christmas story is a beautiful portrait of His grace.
Series: Characters at the Cradle
SHEPHERDS: Portrait of Grace
When God sent His Son into the world, He sent into a setting of religious pride and bigotry. He came into a world where people were bound under the heavy yoke of legalism believing one had to work for their salvation. He came into a world which insisted the higher up the social latter one lived was proof of having more favor with God than those of lesser status. Therefore He came into a world where the title before your name, the clothes on your back, the size of your bank account were the measuring sticks of being somebody before man and God (Wow! Sounds a little like today, doesn=t it?)
But as God was assembling His characters for this living drama which we now call Christmas, certainly He desired just the right characters to attack this false religious system built upon pride and legalism. He wanted people to understand through the Christmas story the wonderful message of GRACE.
THE MESSAGE OF GRACE...
I. IS A MESSAGE FOR ALL MANKIND (2:8-10)
- Social Status
- Religious Background
- Intellectual abilities
-Lowest on the Social Status
The shepherds belonged to a category of people who were called "the people of the land." They were common men who were considered to be outside the pale of religious respectability. They were ceremonially unclean so they could never participate in the rituals of Judaism. They were not even permitted to testify in a court of law. Being a shepherd was one of the lowest and least desirable of all occupations. Yet, it was to such men that the angelic pronouncement was made.
- Considered Ceremonially Unclean
- Normally Uneducated do to their work
Yet, God Sent to them the Angelic Messengers
- Ground is level at the foot of the Cross
- Where men build up walls to keep others from God,
God opens the doors of grace to invite people to him
-Shepherds couldn’t worship God in the temple so He sent worship to them.
(John 1:12 17) 12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. 15John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. 16And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.
17For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ
II. FOCUSES EXCLUSIVELY ON THE LORD JESUS (2:11-12)
No mention of Mary and Joseph
No mention of going to see a priest
Jesus alone is...
(Matt 1:21) And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
(Acts 4:12) Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
B. CHRIST Aanointed one@ Luke 4:18
Only Jesus our Savior could live a perfect life and die for our sins.
Only Jesus the Lord had the authority over death defeating the grave
III. BRINGS GLORY TO GOD AND PEACE TO MEN (2:13-14)
A. Glory to God
(Eph 2:8 9) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast.
(Titus 3:5 7) Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
B. Peace to Men
IV. PROVOKES ACTION TO THOSE WHO EXPERIENCE IT
A. Shepherds Personally Sought Out the Lord Jesus (15-16)
- were not satisfied only to hear about
- did not wait for a more convenient time
- did not allow for other responsibilities to keep them away
B. Shepherds Testified to Others What they had Witnessed (17-19)
C. Shepherds Openly Praised and Glorified God (20)