Away In A Manger (The Shepherd’s Call)

ShepherdsThe Calling of the Shepherds Luke 2:8-20

Shepherds…they smelled like sheep. They slept on the ground. They didn’t live in major cities. Their jobs made them little or no money. They came from the lower rung of society. So why was heaven’s glory revealed to a bunch of nobodies in the middle of nowhere?   Of all the people to whom God could have revealed this startling birth, why choose shepherds?  With all the power brokers in Jerusalem, Caesarea, and Rome, why choose the countryside outside of the insignificant and tiny village of Bethlehem? Here is why…

Bethlehem shepherds were the shepherds who raised the sheep offered as sacrifices at Passover. So even in Jesus’ birth, we are reminded of Jesus’ sacrificial death. Isaiah 53:7

Abraham, Moses, and David were all shepherds and God made great promises to them about deliverance and a Messiah. God showed that He honors his promises by announcing the coming of the Christ, the Messiah, to shepherds first.

The image of a shepherd is the image Jesus chooses to use for his example of a leader — one who pastors, who shepherds his sheep and is even willing to lay down his life for his sheep. John 10:11

The Good Shepherd Psalm 23:1-6,Isaiah 40:11, Ezekiel 34:11-15, John 10:1-16

These reasons are important, but I believe that there is a more important reason that God announced Jesus’ birth first to shepherds. God is the Chief Shepherd among us and is often identified as the loving, tender Shepherd of his people. Jesus identifies himself as the Good Shepherd. God wants us to know that he knows us and cares for us and will never abandon us. So when the glory of Jesus’ birth is announced, it is announced to shepherds to remind us of our Good Shepherd and how much God loves us. Shepherds were despised and unwanted. They lived far from the busy lives of most people of their day. They were not important — not personally, politically, or economically. If God chose to reveal his glory first to them, then God is making an important statement to each one of us personally, that is: Jesus came for me! I am not too low, too insignificant, too unimportant, too powerless, too forgotten, too sinful, or too anything for God to love me, search for me, find me, and want to bring me home.  (excerpts above from Pastor John MacArthur)

 Gods Call to Mankind: “Don’t Be Terrified!” Luke 2: 9,14, Hebrews 10;26-27, John 1:12

In the glorious call to the shepherds there is both a wonderful proclamation and a warning for all of mankind. We read in the gospel account that the shepherds were “terrified” when they first saw the messengers that came to proclaim the good news of Jesus’ birth that night. Why were they terrified? Beyond the sudden appearances of angelic beings, they were likely terrified because they were in the presence of a Holy God and they were sinful men.  An unrepentant sinful man or woman should be terrified of a Holy God. The destiny for such a person is judgment and eternal hell, but the angels proclaimed to the shepherds that “peace” comes to those on whom God’s favor rests.  God’s favor “rests” on His  children.  His children are “those who receive Him, to those who believe in His name”.

For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10:30-31 NASB

The “Good News” of the angels is that we do not need to be terrified in the presence of the most Holy God! Jesus came to earth to die for our sin and in so doing makes a way for us to be reconciled to God by our acknowledgement and appreciation of this amazing gift. He did not come to condemn the world but to offer the world forgiveness and peace. There are, of course, many who reject Christ.  They should be terrified to do so for the day is coming where they shall be condemned.

 “Spread the word”, “treasure up these things” and “Ponder them in Your Heart” Luke 2:17-19

The end of Luke’s “Christmas” narrative reminds us about how we as believers should respond to such wonderful news. The Shepherds “spread the word” and so should we In both teaching: Matthew 28:19-20 and by our actions: Matthew 5:14-16. Mary “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart”.  This gift of Jesus is incomparable in its importance.  Ponder (think upon) it often.  Treasure the love that God has for you.  For it is “great joy for all the people” who will receive this gift of love: 

 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests!” Amen

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