Today I am continuing my series on the Christmas story. Last week I shared with my congregation and with you about the incarnation of Christ from God’s perspective. Today I shared with them the Christmas story from the shepherds perspective. It is very important that we look at the Christmas story from all the perspectives of the participants. When we do this we get insight into the heart and purpose of God. So take a moment and follow along with me as I try to share what the shepherds must have been experiencing and thinking at Christmas.
The Shepherds guarding their sheep at night.
The first thing we need to do is demystify the story of the shepherds. Since we have grown up hearing the story we sometimes forget to put ourselves in the place of the shepherds. So let’s take a fresh look at what was going on that night from the gospel of Luke chapter 2.
8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,
and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
Now I told my congregation to change the job description of the shepherds to miners. Shepherding is not a common job anymore and not in our community but being a miner is. You see, back in the days of the birth of Christ, shepherding was a common job. So bear with me for a second and lets consider what Manny, Moe, and Jack, 3 miners would have thought about the shepherds experience.
Here are 3 guys who are minding their own business working the night shift, they are in the pit scraping out the coal. All of a sudden they see some creature appear in their midst and the glory of God is shining all around. Now in modern America, the first thing they would have done is check their meds. Obviously they were having some type of psychological episode. Can you imagine what they were thinking? What would you have thought if it had been you that had experienced an angel appearing before you?
God could have sent the angel to the priests of the day to give this announcement. He could have sent the angel to the king but He didn’t. He sent the angel to common men with a common job. I think that this is very important because He is showing that He is not interested in those in positions of power or authority but instead He is interested in everyday people like you and I.
Next I want you to notice what the message of the angel was. “I will bring you good news that will bring you great joy to all people”
Again we see that the message of the Christmas story is not a message of anger or displeasure but instead it is a message of reconciliation. It is a message of God’s heart towards man. The birth of Jesus changed everything. God came and made the way for man to have peace with God.
Peace, goodwill towards man.
Notice that in the end the entire host of heaven speaks words of reconciliation. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace and goodwill to men, or as the NLT puts it, to those whom God is pleased.
This again is a different message than religion gives. Religion gives a message of God’s displeasure with man. However because of Jesus, God is not mad at man. He is not mad at you. He cared enough to send Jesus so that you too could be in right relationship with Him. Now that doesn’t mean that God has gone soft on sin, but the sins of the world were placed upon Jesus. As long as we accept the gift that Jesus provided on the cross, God no longer sees your sin but sees the gift that Jesus gave on Calvary.
The shepherds find Jesus
15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.
Notice that the shepherds did not just hear the message and do nothing about it. After the angels left, the shepherds took off for Bethlehem. They wanted to confirm the message that the angels gave. They found that it was exactly as the angels had described. Now once again put yourself in their shoes. Manny, Moe, and Jack, our three miners took off from work and went to check and see if they could find a baby born in a barn. They found that baby! Now again think about it. Not only did they have a spiritual experience at work, but that spiritual experience was confirmed in real life.
We too have an opportunity to have a spiritual experience that can be confirmed in real life. The same Jesus that was born in a manger is the same Jesus that took our sins upon himself on the cross. It is the same Jesus that God raised from the dead. It is the same Jesus that stands at the door of our heart knocking, wanting to come in and establish a personal relationship with us.
20 “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends
That is the spiritual experience that God is offering. If you will just ask for Jesus to come and establish a relationship in your heart, ask forgiveness for the failures and mistakes that you have made in your life that hurt His heart, the you will receive the spiritual experience of being born again to a new life.
If you do this, then you, just as the shepherds at Christmas, will find that you will find the signs that your spiritual experience is confirmed in real life as well.
To learn more about how to be born again to new life, please read the page entitled Meet Jesus.
Resource: Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.