Summary: The unknown shepherds became the privileged ones to received the Christmas news first. They BELIEVED the message, they BECAME the message and they were TRANSFORMED by the message.
The birth of Jesus Christ was not revealed to kings or rulers. It was not even revealed to the religious elite.
• God has decided to announce His coming, the birth of Jesus Christ, to ordinary shepherds out in the fields.
• They were probably unlearned, and without status, but they are willing to BELIEVE.
(1) They BELIEVED God’s Message
Their first response to the angel’s news:
2:15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
At Christmas, the angels brought the news to a few people - Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds. Their challenge is, can they trust what God said.
• It was not an easy thing, especially for Mary and Joseph. The message was really difficult to believe, it wasn’t normal or logical.
• But Mary, Joseph, and now the shepherds chose to BELIEVE God.
• God has chosen those who are willing to BELIEVE Him.
It was remarkable that the shepherds believed. They were told this Saviour; the Messiah (anointed one) would be found “lying in a manger”.
• It does not make sense, actually. He was not born in the palace.
• Yet their first response was “let’s go…” Let’s go to a stable and find the Messiah.
• Faith led them to Bethlehem. Faith led them to Jesus.
King Herod has the chance to know, but his response wasn’t faith. He reacted with jealousy and anger.
• He was thinking about protecting his throne; he was thinking about himself.
• He wanted to kill Jesus, but since he could not find him, he “gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were 2 years old and under”. (Matt 2:16)
The religious people – chief priests and teachers of the law – they were able to tell King Herod what prophet Micah has recorded in the Scriptures (Mt 2:4-6) regarding Christ’s birth, BUT they did not seek Him.
• They refused to believe. They had chosen to believe in their own limited knowledge and wrong beliefs.
• They had chosen to let go of the truth and believe falsehood.
Mary believed. Joseph believed. The shepherds believed. The wise men from the East believed. And they saw JESUS.
• Those who believe God will see the WORKS of God. When we believe God’s word, we will see God’s works. They were blessed because they believed.
• Heb 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
• After John finished writing the Gospel, he ended with these words: “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31)
(2) They BECAME God’s Message
2:17 When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child.
No one told them to. It was something spontaneous. It was the natural thing to do – to tell someone. They became the first missionaries!
• The angels did not appear anymore. The shepherds, and subsequently all who believes of Jesus, became God’s witnesses!
• Today we are God’s messengers! We got to know because for over 2000 years, believers have been sharing this good news.
Why? Why did it happen this way? It’s the JOY of seeing Jesus.
• It was the “good news of great joy” that the angels had said (2:10).
• The shepherds heard, and now saw Jesus with their own eyes. Jesus’ birth gave them joy and hope.
• This joy excites them and gives them the motivation to tell someone.
It is the same motivation we have today. If we have lost that joy and excitement, then we need to SEE Jesus again.
• See again the works of God. Look around and see what God has done and is doing in people’s lives today.
• Share testimonies and hear testimonies. Read books about what He is going, in people’s lives and in the mission fields. Listen to these stories.
Train our eyes to see, not the works of men, but the works of God.
• Do I have a lull period, when I lose the excitement in ministry? Yes, when I lost sight of what He is doing and sees only the works of men.
• When we see and read the news today, we’re hearing and reading the works of men – the scandals, crimes, killings, betrayals, the violence, the evil.
• This news can only bring us sadness, gloom and despair. Don’t fill our minds with the news of men’s works (and often behind these, the works of Satan). We do not want to update ourselves with such news and scandals.