Summary: Part 3 in the series deals with what was in the heart of the shepherds, and why did God choose these shepherds to announce the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ?
What Does it Take to See Jesus?
Christmas Series 2011
Part 3 – We Need the Heart of the Shepherds
By Pastor James May
We have seen from the Christmas Story that not everyone who lived in the land of Israel had the profound opportunity of seeing Jesus when he came into this world. Though his coming had been foretold for thousands of years by many of the old prophets, most in Israel did not know the word of God sufficiently to recognize the Lord when he came. The people trusted in their Rabbi’s and High Priests, and in their system of temple worship, but they did not know God in a very personal sense.
It is dangerous to hinge your salvation upon the actions of someone else. The High Priest would answer for his position of power and leadership, and his failure to lead the Jews into the true worship of God would surely be judged. The Levitical Priesthood would answer for its failure to proclaim the righteousness of God and point the people to the coming of the Messiah. But where would that leave the rest of the people who depended upon these priests?
Every man must answer for himself. Regardless of the leadership that is in place over you, and regardless of how great; or how terrible; that leadership may be, each of us will be judged upon his own merits and not on the action of others. We will all stand before God one-by-one. I won’t be there with you anymore than Moses would be there with those Jews who have long ago passed from this life. Salvation is a very personal matter between you and your God. The final outcome will be determined only by your own obedience to the Word and acceptance of Jesus Christ; or your personal rejection and indifference to the moving of the Spirit as he calls you.
In previous messages we saw that Joseph was chosen by God and because of his faithfulness, love for Mary and for righteousness, and his willingness to obey the Lord, Joseph was given the awesome responsibility of raising God’s own Son, and given the privilege of being present at the birth of the Lord in that stable so long ago. Joseph had made some personal choices the enabled him to be in the right place; at the right time, to be used by God in a mighty way.
In the last message we saw that there were Wise Men from East who had what it took to see Jesus. They had a heart that searched for truth; was willing to step out in living faith and follow the leading of God, wherever God would take them. They had a heart to give; a heart to worship; and a heart to obey the voice of the Lord. They too, were given the privilege of seeing and knowing who Jesus was as a very small child, and they gave what they had to the One who would be the Giver of Life to all mankind.
This morning I want to look at someone else in the Christmas Story who were among the few that were blessed enough to see Jesus and to worship him on the night of his birth.
I want us to examine the hearts of the shepherds; those who were working in the fields with their flocks in the darkness of night, and see what they had in them that enabled them to have a view of Jesus that few others could ever know.
The story of their inclusion into that wonderful night of Jesus’ birth can be found in Luke Chapter 2, verses 8-20.
Luke 2:8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
Just who were these shepherds? Were they special among all of the shepherds in Israel? Why did God choose these shepherds above all of the others in the land and give them the privilege of worshipping his only Son on that first Christmas? Was the choice of God to have his angels appear to this specific group of shepherds just a random choice of did it carry a greater significance?
At that time, shepherds were seen as low class or held little value in the eyes of other people. Most people thought of them as people who could not get a job doing anything worthwhile. Most were hirelings who were quick to steal from their master’s flocks and blame robbers, wolves or bears for that which was missing. It was a common practice to never buy wool, goats milk or meat from a shepherd for it was assumed to have been stolen. All sheep related products must be purchased from the owner of the flock; not the shepherd.