Summary: The Christmas message through the angel to the shepherds
December 25, 2001 Luke 2:11
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
Dear friends in Christ,
When I was in high school, my English professor told me a very important rule when it comes to reporting. There are five basic questions that you can ask that will usually cover the whole story. And these five questions are very easy to remember: who, what, when, where, and why. We don’t get a whole lot of details when Luke reports the sermon of the angel to the shepherds on Christmas night. He doesn’t say what time of year it was, what time of night it was, or whether it was cold or hot out. But he does give us the basics, and that’s all we need.
The Angel Gives us the When, What, Where, Who and Why of Christmas
Our text for today starts out with the word, “today”. Today is different from tomorrow, isn’t it? Today stands for things that are happening here and now, where as tomorrow means there is time to prepare. For instance, did today creep up on you? Or do you still have presents left to buy? Even though we all know what Christmas is, we still have a hard time preparing for it, don’t we? For the last month we’ve been talking about it during our advent services. And yet how many of us said, “I’ll have to prepare for it later”. The term for it is called “procrastination”.
Some things are more important to prepare for than others. For instance, if you didn’t get all your cookies baked for Christmas, it would have been as important as getting all of your gifts purchased. In the same way, some things are more difficult to prepare for than others. In our world, Christmas is more difficult to prepare for than Easter. Preparing for a quiz is easier than preparing for a test. One of the more interesting and difficult things to prepare for in life is the birth of a child. Many women may not like having to wait through nine months of pregnancy, and I don’t blame them, yet this time helps us to prepare for the baby as well. And sometimes when the baby comes we still aren’t prepared.
Isn’t it a good thing then, that God didn’t leave the preparing of the original Christmas up to us? We would have wanted to make sure that Jesus had matching borders around his birth room, a specially stitched baby outfit, with a nice bed and a heated room. But what did God do? For over 4000 years he meticulously and carefully made sure that every last detail was put in place. He made sure that the line of David would be cut down to a stump, that a foreigner would be ruling over the Jews, that the Roman government would want to tax the Jews, and many other details that we aren’t even aware of. His preparations were on a spiritual level, whereas ours would’ve been on a physical level. And so with no warning at all, the angel said to the shepherds, “today”. They had nothing to prepare for, nothing to do. God was in charge of the preparation. The baby was already born, and they didn’t even know it.
Its kind of similar today, isn’t it? People have had months to prepare for Christmas, and what have they done? They might have bought new outfits or baked cookies, but they haven’t prepare themselves at all spiritually for what today is all about. Regardless of the fact, today is here.
When I was vicaring in South Carolina, I was called to the hospital to minister to a family that had just lost their 32 year old daughter in a motorcycle accident. They needed some spiritual guidance. But there was only problem. I was in such a hurry to get to the hospital, that I forgot to get directions. As I was in the car then, couldn’t find the hospital.
The angel had told the shepherds that something had happened today. But they didn’t leave them in the dark as to where this something had happened. They said it happened, “in the town of David.” If I were to do a poll of the people of Topeka and ask them, “where is the town of David,” I would be surprised if half of the people would know where it was. But to these shepherds, this would be no mystery. For they were living right outside of the town of David - called Bethlehem. It was called his town, because that was where Boaz and Jesse - his grandpa and father were from - and David also was from. With the location of what had happened, they should have had a sense as to what this announcement was going to be, for in Micah 5:2 God had predicted, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” They wouldn’t have far at all to go and see what had happened!