Birth of the SaviorLuke 2:1-20Theme: Paradoxes of the promise.This week’s lessons teach us that the good news of the Gospel is for everyone.
LessonPeople might think, “Oh, if the angels came to earth to speak to anybody, it ought to have been to Caesar, or it ought to have been to Quirinius, or perhaps it ought to have been to the Jewish authorities, the priests.” No, that is not what God did. God gave this glorious announcement to these men who were out in the fields with their sheep. The experience that they had was not even shared by the parents of the child. It is true that an angel had appeared to Joseph to tell him how to name the child. And the angel had appeared to Mary with the annunciation. But they didn’t hear the angels sing. They didn’t hear that great announcement: “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord.” They didn’t hear, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace good will toward men.” But the shepherds did. So the point is that if God made the good news of this glorious Gospel known to the shepherds, then God makes that announcement known to everybody.
This Gospel is for you, whoever you may be or whatever you may have done. From the highest to the lowest, the glory is for those who are lost in sin in order that, by the grace of God, they might be lifted up from sin and made like Jesus Christ our Savior.
I notice something else here at the end of the story. There are four instructions in how we are to celebrate Christmas, or the birth of Christ. The first is found in the work of the shepherds, while the second is found in the response of those who heard their message. The third instruction comes from Mary’s reaction to these things, and the final instruction tells us what the shepherds did.
First of all, in verse 17 we read, “When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child.” So the best way to celebrate Christmas is to make known this marvelous story in the same way the shepherds did. Why did the shepherds tell the story? After all, they really hadn’t been commissioned to do it. Who were they to go around spreading the word concerning all that had been told them about this child? They didn’t need a commissioning. There was a desperate world that needed to hear the message. Since the shepherds knew the message, they spoke to the world around them about what had happened.
Their world was a lost world. It was a confused world. They didn’t know what the truth was or the way in which to find it. It was a dying world. Some would have said that in spite of the great glory of the empire of Augustus, the world was on its last legs. And here were shepherds who had been told about this Jesus who was to grow to manhood and begin a ministry, and who would later say, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me.”
Jesus is the way for a world that is lost. Jesus is the truth for a world that is confused. Jesus is the life for a world that is dying. That is the message. Are you lost? Many people don’t know which way to turn. Are you confused? Many people are confused. Do you feel that you’re dying? Yes, you are dying. We are all dying. But Jesus Christ was and is the answer to that need. He is the One who is the way, the truth, and the life. It was about him that the shepherds spoke. Doing likewise is a great way to celebrate Christmas.
I notice secondly that all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. They wondered at these things. There are different kinds of wonder. There is a wonder that we call a seven-day wonder. It’s here today and everybody talks about it, and then it’s gone. Nobody thinks about it again. It wasn’t that kind of wonder. It was a deep kind of wonder. They were amazed at what they heard, and they thought about it. There is something wonderful about Christmas. We most certainly ought to be able to wonder at the gift of Jesus Christ. And that is what the shepherds did.
What is significant about the fact that God made the good news of the Gospel known to shepherds?
According to Dr. Boice, what is the best way to celebrate Christmas?
Why did the shepherds share the good news with the world around them?
ReflectionDo you have wonder at the celebration of Christ’s birth? Or has your wonder gotten lost in the hustle and bustle of the season?