Summary: This message invites the audience to take the Christmas story personally. This just isn’t the Jews Messiah, or Mary’s child. Jesus told the shepherds "Unto YOU is born..." This Christmas - make him YOUR Jesus.
4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. Luke 2:4-20 (KJV)
THE BIRTH OF MESSIAH
For years the Jews had waited for the prophesied Savior. They had been under the rule of other nations for nearly 600 years. Babylonians, Assyrians, Greeks, and now the Romans.
It had been 400 years since Malachi, the last prophet, had preached the Word of God to them.
Based on prophetic writings, there was a great Messianic expectation during this time.
What a momentous night – so long awaited. Christ, the Lord, was born. On this night, the world would change.
The innkeeper tallied up the books, extinguished the lantern hanging by the front door, and went to bed, as he had every evening at this time for year.
A few shepherds, content that the sheep were settled for the night, sat around the fire and discussed which amongst them would stay awake through the first watch – as they did every night. They had no idea that multitudes of angels were gathering just above them in the night sky.
Imagine being chosen to receive this mighty proclamation. For the shepherds, the night had started just like any other. But there were shepherds out all over the countryside – indeed all over the world.
What was it that made the angels stop over this particular hillside? We do know that it was fitting for them to appear to shepherds
o Because of Bethlehem’s close proximity to Jerusalem, many of these sheep were being raised for sacrifice at the temple.
o These shepherds were being notified of the birth of another lamb. But this lamb was different – this was the perfect lamb. The sacrifice to end all sacrifices…
None of them could have truly understood the significance of these events, or of the proclamation itself.
The Jews thought that they Messiah was coming to provide a NATIONAL deliverance. But this was a proclamation of good news to ALL PEOPLE. The birth of this child would bring:
o Glory to God
o On earth peace to all on whom God’s FAVOR rests
THE FAVOR OF GOD
Mary was highly favored
The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." Luke 1:28 (NIV)
Elizabeth was favored to receive news
But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? Luke 1:43 (NIV)
I think it’s safe to say the shepherds were favored… we might look upon these with some envy… What a remarkable period it must have been! What hope! What joy! What blessing!