Summary: Part 3 of MERRY CHRISTMAS SERIES! Perhaps the best known of all Christmas stories is found in our text today. For years, Christmas was not Christmas in our life until this story had been read aloud and savored.
THE MESSENGERS AND THE MESSAGES
Perhaps the best known of all Christmas stories is found in text today. Christmas was not Christmas in our life until this story had been read aloud and savored.
We will discuss today the TWO IMPORTANT WORDS related to the birth of Christ: first is the MESSENGERS OF CHRISTMAS and; second is THE MESSAGES OF CHRISTMAS.
I. THE MESSENGERS OF CHRISTMAS
Lets talk about the messengers of this Christmas. Who are these messengers chosen by God to deliver His messages?
The text clearly identified these messengers as the SHEPHERDS.
Max L. Lucado once said:
"The announcement of CHRISTMAS went first to the shepherds. They didn’t ask God if he was sure he knew what he was doing. Had the angel gone to the theologians, they would have first consulted their commentaries. Had he gone to the elite, they would have looked around to see if anyone was watching. Had he gone to the successful, they would have first looked at their calendars.
So he went to the shepherds. Men who didn’t have a reputation to protect or an ax to grind or a ladder to climb. Men who didn’t know enough to tell God that angels don’t sing to sheep and that messiahs aren’t found wrapped in rags and sleeping in a feed trough.
A small cathedral outside Bethlehem marks the supposed birthplace of Jesus. Behind a high alter in the church is a cave, a little cavern lit by silver lamps.
You can enter the main edifice and admire the ancient church. You can also enter the quiet cave where a star embedded in the floor recognizes the birth of the King. There is one stipulation, however. You have to stoop. The door is so low you can’t go in standing up.
The same is true of the Christ. You can see the world standing tall, but to witness the Savior, you have to get on your knees.
while the theologians were sleeping
and the elite were dreaming
and the successful were snoring,
the meek were kneeling.
They were kneeling before the One only the meek will see.
They were kneeling in front of Jesus."
Someone has said that “If you want to hear from God become a shepherd!” [Not a Reverend or a Doctor]
A. The shepherds, WERE RELIGIOUS OUTCASTS
It is very interesting to know that God chose to announce the birth of His Son to the most ordinary of ordinary people, shepherds. Shepherds are the last people you’d expect God to take notice of. First of all, they were religious outcasts. According to Jewish religious law, they were “unclean.” Their line of work prevented them from participating in the feasts and holy days that made up the Jewish religious calendar. Why? Well, somebody had to tend the sheep. When everyone else was making the trip to Jerusalem to sacrifice at the temple, or to participate in one of the annual feasts, the shepherds stayed behind, out in the fields watching the sheep.
A modern day example of this might be a truck driver; someone whose job keeps him from regularly attending church. It wasn’t the shepherd’s fault that they were looked down on from a religious point of view. In other words, whatever might have been in their hearts, they weren’t able to participate fully in the religious life of the community.
B. The shepherds, WERE SOCIAL OUTCASTS
Not only that, but shepherds were also social outcasts. Since they were constantly on the move to find new pasture for their flocks, they were always looked on with suspicion. A modern day example of this would be a carnival worker. Shepherds were often accused of thievery. If something came up missing blame often fell on the shepherds. In fact they were so mistrusted they weren’t even allowed to give testimony in a legal proceeding. On top of all that, they really didn’t have much contact with other people. Most of the time, they were “living out in the fields”. Shepherding is not a 40-hour a week job. They didn’t come home at night. They were with the sheep 24/7.
What I’m trying to say is when God chose to reveal the arrival of His Son, he didn’t choose to do so through Kings or Queens or high society. He did it through a bunch of uneducated, smelly, low-class, social and religious outcasts. He did it through the most ordinary of the ordinary of their day, shepherds.
"Now, among the Jews at that period shepherds were held in low estimation among the people. In the Talmud we read they were not to be allowed in the courts as witnesses…no help will be given to the heathen or to the shepherds…Thus these men at the bottom of the social scale in Israel, were chosen as the first preachers of the new-born King."