Summary: The glory of the Lord shone around the shepherds as they watched their flock. They were terrified. Soon, however, their fear turned to rejoicing. Join Pastor Danny as he teaches about his personal journey from fear to authentic faith in Christ.
If you have been at any of the last couple Sunday morning worship services you know that Christmas is my favorite time of the year. And you have also learned that I enjoy singing Christmas carols.
We have sung “Silent Night” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Today I want us to join together for another favorite Christmas time carol “God Rest Ye’ Merry Gentlemen” (the words will be on the screen).
(TRANSITION) There are actually several more verses to this song that are rarely sung. Basically the song tells the story of the shepherds found in Luke 2:8-20 – I want to read it to you from the New Living Translation this morning.
8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.
I find in this story a powerful example of how people move from fear to praise when they catch a glimpse of the glory of God.
A. The Backstory (Luke 2:1-7)
Before we get to the part of the story we have already read there is another magnificent event happening.
In Luke 2:1-7
• The Decree (vv. 1-3)
o Caesar Augustus
o Tax & Census
• The Action (vv. 4-5)
o Joseph and Mary (who is quite pregnant by now) travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem in order to participate in the census
o The journey was about 80 miles and probably took a week to complete.
o Came to Bethlehem registered and waited for the child to be born (fulfillment of prophecy – Micah 5:2).
o Jesus was born and wrapped in cloths and laid in a feeding trough.
o Because of the census there were no rooms available at the lodging places.
(TRANSITION) But while Mary is in the throes of birth pangs, like any other woman delivering a child, angels are visiting shepherds. On the hills outside of Bethlehem shepherds were about their daily business of watching the flocks. Night had come. The sheep were corralled. The campfire burned to shield them from the night cold.
B. Shepherds and Angels (Luke 2:8-12)
Then SUDDENLY the darkness of the night gives way to a shining glimmering light. The shepherds covered their faces in surprise. Then, slowly, they pulled their hands down from their eyes. Before them stood and angel of the Lord.
The shepherds, like every other person we have talked about who saw an angel, were afraid. Luke tells us the “glory of the Lord shone around them and they were terrified.”
The angel quiets the shepherd’s fears and begins to announce the reason for his visit.
Today – right now – in the city of King David the Messiah (the Christ, the Son of God) is born!
The angel declares that his news is GOOD and JOYFUL (as contrasted with the terror of seeing an angel).
Then he tells them how they will know which child is the Messiah – he will be the one wrapped in cloths and lying in a feeding trough.
• Isn’t amazing how this points to Isaiah’s depiction of the Christ!
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. (Isaiah 53:2b)
• He came from heaven to earth. He was made in the likeness of human flesh. The Son of God had come for the purpose of redeeming ALL of humankind.