Summary: God exalts those who will be humbled. So when He humbled Himself to become a man, God did magnify & honor Himself to those who in humbleness would seek out the Christ. The significance of the event made it fitting that Heaven should come down & give God G
LUKE 2: 8-14
WHEN HEAVEN CAME DOWN
[Eph. 2:12-18, Isa. 65:1, 61:1f, 1 Pet. 10:21, Zech. 9:9-12, Rev. 5:9-14]
Christmas is a drama of the exciting invasion of earth by infinite God, the Eternal Spirit, Who became flesh in order to become man. His purpose was to personally reveal Himself to us, and give Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. Christ left His heavenly glory to become poor for our sakes, that we might become spiritually rich through Him.
The first to see this drama of the incarnation unfold were poor shepherds on the hillside of Judea. They were outside the city of Bethlehem when Jesus was born. But there were others in Bethlehem that night; merchants and laborers, Roman soldiers in charge of tax registration and other government officials. Why didn't God reveal Himself to the important people in town, instead of to humble shepherds? Perhaps He knew their self-sufficiency. God prefers to reveal Himself to humble hearts. He by-passes the proud who think themselves worthy of notice and reveals Himself to the contrite.
Yet the humbleness of another is the real reason for this dramatic event. The greatest humbling in the world was when God, the Sovereign Lord of the universe, emptied Himself and took upon Himself the form of man, the form of a servant (Phil. 2:7). God exalts those who will be humbled (1 Pet. 5:5-6). So when He humbled Himself to become a man, God did in some measure magnify and honor Himself to those who in humbleness would seek out the Christ. The significance of the event made it fitting that Heaven should come down and give God Glory (CIT).
The passage can be outlined as follows:
I. KEEPING WATCH OVER THE FLOCK, 2:8-9
II. GOOD NEWS OF GREAT JOY, 2:10-12
III. GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST, 2:13-14
First, Keeping Watch Over the Flock.
In verse 8 the scene changes from the manger to the fields, from the humble Savior to lowly shepherds. “And in the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night.”
“In the same region,” in the area near Bethlehem of Judea, where the Christ Child was born. "There were some shepherds." Shepherds were among the lowest groups on the social-economic scale. They were despised by the up and ups for their occupation made it difficult for them to obey the Rabbical law. So the first public proclamation of the good news was to social outcasts.
[It demonstrates that no matter how insignificant you may think you are, God knows you, & you are important to Him. All throughout Scripture God honors and uses people & things that the world often overlooks or ignores (1 Cor. 1:26-28a).]
Yet from these shepherd’s response of hurrying to find the Christ Child after the announcement they were probable devout men waiting for the deliverance of Israel (2:15, 17, 20). The Gospel seems to have its best response among the poor and lowly. The movers and shakers may exclude them from their circles or society, but God will not exclude them from the good news.
The shepherds were "staying out in their fields." These shepherds were bivouacking, passing the night in the open air [probably between March and November for in the winter they kept their flocks in folds]. In these very pastures the shepherd boy David had fought the lion and bear to protect the sheep (1 Sam. 17:34f). These shepherds too were keeping watch. They were about their normal work of taking turns keeping watch to make certain the sheep were protected from thieves, beasts of prey and accidents. Here, as it is so often, those faithfully about their duty in the routine of life have an encounter with God. For God speaks to people at work as well as at worship. Do your work but leave the door to Heaven open and the light from above will brighten your labor on earth.
These shepherds were on the night shift. They were keeping watch over their flock by night. The dark back drop of night made the brilliance of the angelic appearance all the more vivid.
Since this flock was so near Jerusalem it may have been destine for sacrifice in the Temple. There is beautiful significance in the thought that the Lamb of God born in Bethlehem's stable was the Lamb of God destined to be sacrificed for the sins of the world was announced to shepherds watching flocks destined for sacrifice.
The tranquil night is suddenly changed in verse 9 by a heavenly messenger. “And suddenly an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were terribly frightened.”
It all happened with dramatic swiftness, one moment the quiet sounds of a still night, the next a strong, holy angel of the Lord stood before them in brilliance making the night brighter than day to their unadjusted eyes. They had not noticed his coming for the angel made no visible approach.