Summary: God intentionally worked out his plan for the birth of Jesus in the city of Bethlehem. To emphasize his providence, he used the symbolism of shepherding; and not just any shepherding, that of the fields around Bethlehem.
1. Jesus Doll
Chuck Swindoll writes of a commercial venture by one of the largest department stores in the nation. It proved to be disastrously unsuccessful. Their idea was a doll in the form of baby Jesus. It was advertised as being unbreakable, washable and cuddly. It was packaged in straw with a satin crib and plastic surroundings, and appropriate biblical texts added here and there to make the scene complete.
It did not sell. The manager of one of the stores panicked. He carried out a last ditch promotion to get rid of these dolls. He hung a huge sign outside his store that read:
JESUS CHRIST -- MARKED DOWN 50%; GET HIM WHILE YOU CAN!
It seems a little strange that the greatest individual who ever graced this earth should be packaged and offered at clearance prices. Perhaps potential purchasers compared the bed of straw to the deluxe cribs of other dolls and passed by the opportunity to own Jesus. Maybe would-be buyers looked at his tattered clothes and thought the other dolls looked cuter in their fuzzy sleepers. At first glance, Jesus probably wasn't the best doll on the shelf. He lacks the eye-catching qualities that we find so appealing.
But it's the very lack of pretense and privilege accompanying Jesus birth that makes him even more attractive as you get to know him. [I wonder if Mary saw her baby on the cross
2. Signs of the Messiah included:
* Healing Lepers
* Feeding People
* Casting out deaf, mute, blind demon
* Resurrection from Mt. of Olives
* Other signs from Isaiah as seen in Matthew 11.2-6
3. John's Declaration -- John 1.29
a. He knew his hometown was right -- Micah 5.2
b. He had the correct experience -- John 1.32-34
32 And John bore witness: "I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God."
4. An Overlooked sign -- Micah 4.1-8
I. Imagery of the Lamb
A. The Sacrifice of God = "Lamb of God" (idiom)
B. Numerous Sacrifices Used Lambs -- Passover was a special use of Lambs
1. Exodus from Egypt and the tenth plague
2. Significance of the unblemished Lamb's blood for each household
3. Looked forward to Jesus
II. Inclusion of the Watchtower
A. Jacob Knew the Watchtower -- Genesis 35.21
1. Following the death of Rachel on the way to Bethlehem
2. Jacob remains near Bethlehem (Grief?)
3. "Migdal Eder"
a. Traditionally 1000 paces outside of Bethlehem
b. A two story tower in the grazing land of Bethlehem
B. Purposes in the Tower
1. Protect from Robbers and Animal Predators
2. Assist in the birth of lambs
C. An Application for Us, Roles of Elders for us -- Acts 20.28
III. Involvement of the Shepherds
A. Traditional View of Shepherds in Luke 2
a. The Humble
b. The Lowly and Ordinary
B. Possibly Shepherd-Priests
1. There was a need for MANY lambs
a. At the dedication of the temple 120,000 lambs were sacrificed (1 Kings 8.63)
b. Passover -- Population in David's Time -- 250K-300K lambs needed; Pilgrim feast
c. Daily sacrifices would require numerous lambs -- Numbers 28-29
d. Priests took over the fields and flocks in Bethlehem by the first century
a. For the purpose of ceremonial purity
b. For the purpose of financial reward
SOME THINGS MONEY CAN'T BUY
The story is told of a professor was gave a big test one day to his students. He handed out all of the tests and went back to his desk to wait. Once the test was over, the students all handed the tests back in.
The professor noticed that one of the students had attached a $100 bill to his test with a note saying "A dollar per point."
The next class the professor handed the tests back out. This student got back his test score and $64 change.
We live in a world where virtually anything can be bought with money. It's important to be reminded every now and then that there are some things that money can't buy.
"Conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." (I Peter 1:17b-19)
2. Lambs needed to be without Blemish
a. Shepherds brought ewes who were to give birth into the first floor of the tower