The true Christmas story started long ago. Today we look at the shepherds and angels who played a role in the Christmas story of the birth of Jesus Christ. What did those characters bring to that season? In case you are joining me for the first time, I have been sharing sermon notes from my pastor’s sermon series titled, ‘The Characters of Christmas.’ So far, we have looked at Joseph, Mary, and the Magi. Each has taught us something about ourselves.
Today, we will see what lessons we can learn from the shepherds and angels. Our text comes from the gospel of Luke, chapter 2, verses 8-18.
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a, great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
Let’s start with the angels
.Not every angel that brings a message from God is named. In our passages above, we do not see an angel specifically named. Unlike the story of Mary, where we read about Gabriel bringing the message to Mary, the angel that appeared to the shepherds is not named. The heavenly host is not named – only that they are a heavenly host who appeared with the angel praising God.
The supernatural came to tell the natural that the supernatural had come. Look at verses 10-12 again.
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Notice what the angel declares:
- Don’t be afraid.
- I have good news
- This good news will bring great joy to everyone.
- This is where the event occurred.
- A Savior has been born.
- He is the Messiah.
- This is how you can know you have found the right baby.
The one they had been waiting for had finally arrived. The one prophesied in the Old Testament numerous times is here; the anointed one, the Messiah, the King of kings, and Lord of Lords has come.
A great company of heavenly host appear before the shepherds and praise God! That must have been a spectacular sight to behold.
What about those shepherds?
What the shepherds saw was confirmation of what they were told.
I was thinking about this as I’m writing down the sermon notes and these thoughts occurred to me. Picture this based on the scriptures above:
You are standing in a field tending a bunch of stinky sheep, and an angel appears to you. That’s already a big deal. Then the angel gives you huge news that will change the course of humanity. And if that is not enough to make you quake in your sandals, a heavenly host appears and starts praising God right before your eyes. Over an open field, with a bunch of stinky sheep, the angels of heaven are praising God!
If you still don’t believe their message and go try to find the Savior of the world, one has to ask – what is it going to take?
I remember many years ago asking the Lord to put his messages to me on a billboard. I needed the obvious. In the days of shepherds and sheep, when Jesus was born, a heavenly host of angels is way better than any billboard we can construct today.
How did the shepherds respond?
They acknowledged the Lord had spoken to them, so they acted on his words.
They went to Bethlehem.
The shepherds brought their testimony about what they saw – they had to share with whoever would listen.
What’s the takeaway?
The good news of the gospel, the real Christmas story needs to be shared. We are called to share our testimony and Jesus Christ with others.
There will always be those who blow us off but we still have a job to do – talk and share.
Do we need a heavenly host to appear before we will act? We have the entire written Word of God. We have everything we need to share the good news with others.
In a lost and dying world, we need Jesus more than ever before.
Be like the shepherds. Hear the good news, believe the good news, and share the good news!