Lessons & Carols: Lesson 3

Zach Farrar (Community Groups Coordinator)

Lesson 2: Luke 2:8-14

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in highest heaven,
    and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

The Peanuts’ Christmas special first aired in 1965. Exactly 50 years later, it has become an iconic part of Christmas in America. And at the center of that animated classic is this familiar passage from Luke. Rightfully so, for in this small passage about the birth of Jesus, we are reminded about who God has brought His Kingdom to.

Shepherds were societal outcasts. No one grew up thinking “One day I want to be a shepherd.” They typically were nomads, roaming the countryside looking for adequate pastureland for their flocks. From an international perspective, they were reviled by the Egyptians and looked down on as second-class citizens by the Jews, Romans, and Greeks. The religious leaders of the day, though they interacted with livestock for temple sacrifices, saw shepherds as untrustworthy and unclean.

And yet when God announced the arrival of His Son, the long awaited King from David’s line, He sent an angelic herald, to poor, outcast shepherds. It’s actually a theme throughout the story of Jesus’ birth. A young virgin girl (probably in her early teens) finds that she is pregnant with the Son of God. Foreigners from a distant land discover a long awaited star that points to the Savior’s birth. Poor shepherds in a field at night are visited by an angelic messenger. These are the people God announces His Kingdom too. In fact, in His first sermon in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus gladly proclaims, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs,” (Matt. 5:3, NLT). In short, God  gladly welcomes the humble into His Kingdom.

That has been God’s plan all along. “The righteous shall live by faith,” (Habakkuk 2:4, Rom. 1:16-17), and elsewhere in the the Old Testament we also read, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble,” (Prov. 3:34, James 4:6-9). So it really seems fitting that at the first Christmas, shepherds, a young seemingly insignificant girl, and foreigners traveling to Israel are all the first to hear about, see, and worship the King.

That is the message of Christmas – that the newborn King came in humility to save the humble who recognize their need for a Savior. That is the message we rejoice in at Christmas.

Post Series: Advent 2015

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