Summary: This sermon asks the question "What if God gave you a witness like He did the Shepherds?" What if He let you witness something as powerful as the birth of the Son of God?
. (1) Preparing for large Christmas Eve family gathering, a mother had been giving out orders like a drill sergeant: "Pick up your things! Don’t get your clothes dirty! Put away those toys." Well, her 4-year-old daughter had been underfoot all day, so she sent her to the next room to play with their wooden Nativity set. As the mother scurried around setting the table she overheard her daughter talking to her toys in the same tone of voice the mother had used: "I don’t care who you are, get those camels out of my living room!". It makes me wonder sometimes just how
we approach Christmas.
As we quickly approach Christmas this year, I continue to ask the "What if?" questions. Two weeks ago I asked you "What if God spoke to you the way He did Mary?" Then last week I asked you "What if God gave you a mission like He did the wisemen?". Today I shift to the Shepherds. "What if God gave you a witness like He did the Shepherds?"
Out in the field, minding their own business; tending the sheep and wham, just like that an "angel of the Lord" interrupts their peaceful night; and the glory of the Lord shines around them, and the most wonderful message of all time is deliverered "to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord"... and then a multitude of angels
saying "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among whom he favors"!
If this had been all they had witnessed, it would seem great enough! But they made their way into town, and found the child, just as it had been told them, a child lying in a manger with Mary and Joseph. And this great event that they saw; they were witnesses to the birth of the Messiah; the Son of God. What if God gave you a witness like He did the Shepherd’s, what would
be your response? The Shepherds responded to the message in several ways:
A) First, it was something that they experainced for themselves! They not only heard the message proclaimed, but they went in haste to investigate it, and experiance it for themselves. It was something that could not be contained and "they made know
what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed".
When I was a little boy, I remember that at revivals they would open up the floor to anyone who wanted to give a "testimony". Then people would get up
and testify about what God had done in their life. If the Shepherds didn’t go and testify; give their eye witness testimonial; then what good would it
have been for them to witness the great event. In the 16th Chapter of Mark, Mary Magdalene and the other women saw that the stone had been rolled from
the tomb, and the angel told them "that Jesus had been raised. He is not here. He has risen". and yet verse 16:8 tells thet the women "said nothing to anyone because they were afraid". What good is it to witness a great moving of God, if you do not share it with others?
B) The second thing I note about the Shepherd’s witness is that: status doesn’t matter!
The solo I sang in the Community Choir last Sunday Night was entitled "A Strange Way", and has Joseph asking the question "Why me, with all the rulers in the world?", "why would God pick such a simple man of trade". There was King Herod, or the High Priest, Roman
Centurion’s, and the list could go on, but God chose a group of Shepherds, which among Jewish culture was a lowly position. Smelly! Long days and nights! A more nomadic lifestyle, and yet when it came to status to witness the birth of the Son of God, status doesn’t matter.
It is not to say that God can’t use Doctors and layers, and people of importance. God can and will use those people. But God will also use, and so often did in the stories we read in Scripture; the least; the last... simple ordinary people like you and me to witness the greatness of God.
illustraition: When Max Lucado was working as a roustabout with an old man named Ben. When they were finally chosen, Ben said "It sure feels good to be
chosen, boy"... "it sure does Ben, it sure does".
C) Three, the Shepherd’s just "Can’t keep quiet!" And neither should we! We have a witness, that jesus Christ has not only been born, but He has been
born a new in our hearts and lives.
In a story told by George Dempster, (2) "The Thames, flowing through London, was at low tide, causing the freighter to be anchored a distance from shore.