Summary: #3 in a series: A look at some of the better known characters of the Christmas Story, learning from their experiences as God’s In-Breaking Kingdom brought the incarnation of Jesus Christ to planet earth and into their personal lives.
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An Insider or An Outsider…Which are you?
Which group do you fit with? Let’s say at work? Or school?
Are you part of the in-crowd? Or are you one of the weirdo’s?
How about at church?
If, we’re gut honest…there are lots of times in our lives when we feel like we’re OUTSIDERS. Right?
Like you don’t belong with a particular group of people or feel as if you aren’t good enough, smart enough, good looking enough to … you name it.
We have all been in situations where we have felt like the odd man out.
Truth be told, most of us many times feel left out of something. We feel that we don’t belong.
And at the same time, we’ve been around people who seem to be very confident. So sure of themselves, “insiders” who know the ropes, old hands in a club from which we feel excluded.
Historically, God many times chose society’s outcasts or outsiders to carry out His purposes and plans. They had major roles in His Kingdom story.
You’ll find throughout the New Testament story after story of how the Lord used, included those typically considered as outsiders by the religious establishment of the day: women, fishermen, the racially different, common laborers like shepherds, non -Jews like the Wise Men.
When God sent His son Jesus, to all of us, His kingdom was established on earth. The age of the Last Days broke in upon His people, just as He had promised for generations.
As we look at the Christmas story we find accounts that baffled the religious leaders of the day, the insiders.
Messiah didn’t come as they expected. As a great and regal King.
But He came in and through a package they couldn’t understand. A young virgin, an outsider. She wasn’t even married and was pregnant!
The first people to hear of this birth weren’t the religious leaders of the day but were shepherds, outsiders. And men from another country. Aliens. Outsiders.
It is in this context that I tell the story of the Shepherds and the Wise Men.
Outsiders. Who had their night, their time.
Isaiah 9:2 says: The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.
The shepherds were literally in the dark.
One of their main jobs was to raise perfect sacrificial lambs for the priests of the day. Therefore, they basically ignored the Sabbath, rarely showed their faces in the temple because they had the job of ensuring that these lambs would be well cared for. At the same time they were often criticized by those very same priests for not observing the Sabbath. They couldn’t win for losing as the saying goes.
They were considered by society as the lowlife, outcasts if you will. Laborers. Uneducated. Not allowed to testify in court if they needed to defend themselves.
While shepherds watched their flocks by night – they were literally doing what they were supposed to be doing. Night after night after night – watching, guarding their flock.
While they were doing the same old, same old, the Kingdom of God broke into their night –
(Luke 2: 9 – 11)
Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”
It is said that they left their fields that night and saw the baby Jesus.
The least and the lowly. Outsiders. God chose them.
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light!
God chose the shepherds. But He also had plans to let the rest of the world know. Take the Good News to those from another country.
Enter the Wise Men. Magi. Scholars. Thinkers. Philosophers. Men of Influence. Stargazers. Astronomers. A tribe of sorts called Magi. Gentiles. Aliens. Non -Jews! Yet they saw a great light. Literally. A star – in the east.
The Magi were watching the stars by night. Night after night after night. Years of nights. When they began to notice a change, a shift of the stars, something’s up in that night sky. Something big is taking place. They knew. Excitement grew.Years of study, watching. A new star.
A star so bright. Star of wonder, star of night, star with royal beauty bright. Westward leading, still proceeding. Guide us to thy perfect light.
Their journey began. They packed their bags and headed west. As great thinkers, philosophers, scholars, readers of other religions, they must have known that the Jews were waiting for a Messiah. They knew enough to know that this star, which was moving and growing brighter was something they needed to follow.