Summary: A message about the choice to proclaim the news of Christ's birth to the lowly shepherds. The sermon looks at how the shepherds were a foreshadowing of who the ministry of Jesus would focus on.
OF COURSE IT WAS SHEPHERDS: We act like this was an inevitable part of the story, but it wasn’t.
- Luke 2:8-12.
- The Christmas story is so familiar that we presume that each part had to happen that way. “Of course the shepherds heard from the angels. It had to be like that.” Only it didn’t. It could conceivably have been any group or individual, yet it was shepherds that God chose for the message to be delivered to. Why?
- Shepherds were definitely not the most respected members of society. They were not at the top of the social pecking order. In fact, they are generally thought to have been almost at the bottom of the rungs of success.
- How might we recast the story to bring it to the present day and get the point out of it? A couple attempts:
a. “And behold, there were garbage men showing up for their 5 a.m. shift. As they stood around preparing to go out, an angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them.”
b. “And it was 3 a.m. when the fast food workers went out back to take a smoke break. No customers were around. As they sat there, an angel of the Lord appeared to them and declared, ‘I bring you good news.’”
- All of this raises an interesting question: why were the shepherds the ones who got the visit from the angels? Why not:
a. The town mayor?
b. The town rabbi?
c. The wealthiest man in town?
- The answer lies in the second point for this morning . . .
WHY THEM? It points to type of people Jesus was seeking and the type of Kingdom He was bringing.
- Luke 2:8-12.
- We can get a sense of the type of Kingdom He was bringing by looking at Matthew 5:1-12.
- Unpack the four passages above: the Beatitudes, the criteria for separating the sheep and the goats, Jesus’ mission statement at Nazareth, Jesus’ proofs to John’s followers.
- Once we understand those crucial passages, the choice of the shepherds begins to make more sense. As some of the weaker and less powerful members of society, they were emblematic of the direction that Jesus was going to take when it started. The shepherds represent a foreshadowing of what is to come.
- Ponder for a moment how poorly orchestrated this event is by modern P.R. standards. It’s the wrong time, the wrong place, and the wrong people. To have it happen in the middle of the night when no one is around? What a wasted opportunity! To have it happen in Podunk little Bethlehem, in a stable no less? What a wasted opportunity! To have a gaggle of shepherd nobodies be the recipients of the news? What a wasted opportunity!
HOW CAN I INCORPORATE THIS INTO MY LIFE?
1. If you feel weak and powerless, know that you’re the kind of person God likes to use.
- Because of the way that the world usually works, we presume that the strong and the powerful land the ones that have all the advantages. It’s just business as usual.
- Understanding the truths that we’ve been discussing this morning, we see that God is up to something different. We begin to see that God actually has a preference for using the weak and powerless.
- Consider the words of 1 Corinthians 1:26-31. It speaks of God choosing the “weak things” so that those who have something to boast about will “boast in the Lord.”
- Consider the words of 2 Corinthians 12:1-10. Paul speaks of his “thorn in the flesh,” which causes him to remain humble. He concludes that God’s “power is made perfect in weakness.” How? Because when we are weak it forces us to rely on His power. So Paul says, “When I am weak, then I am strong.”
- Taken together, it turns on its head the way we normally think. Those who are weak and powerless presume that God can do nothing through them because nothing much impressive happens through them in any other aspect of their lives. Not so, though, God is eager to use that kind of person. It’s a truth that found throughout the New Testament.
2. If you want to experience God’s presence more often, look to the weak places.
- Many of us would like to have more of God’s presence in our lives. Where do we find that?
- Well, one clue is given to us in Matthew 25. We are told where we can find Christ’s presence in the world. Unpack that passage.