The Angles And The Shepherds

Scripture Text: Luke 2:1-20, NLT

1 At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born.She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped Him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

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, 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.”

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.

INTRODUCTION

We probably need two messages to cover the Angels and the Shepherds but I will attempt to do it in one.

I. THE FIRST THING I WANT YOU TO NOTICE IS THE CONTRAST

The angels are:

  • Divine
  • Heavenly
  • Radiant
  • Glorious
  • Pure/Unstained
  • Perfectors of praise and worship

The Shepherds are:

  • Lowly
  • Despised
  • Humble
  • Outcast
  • Dirty/Stinking

II. SECONDLY I WANT YOU TO NOTE THE SIMILARITY

 [1] Both shared the good news.

First the Angel of the LORD, many think it was Gabriel but the scripture does not say for sure. Note what He says,  “Don’t be afraid! 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! 

  • The Message is “Good News!” [We don’t need bad news, we have the TV for that]
  • It was good news that brings “Great Joy!” [bad news brings disappointment and sorrow]
  • It is for ALL PEOPLE. Judaism was exclusive. The shepherds of Bethlehem tended the very lambs used for sacrifice and yet they were barred from the Temple because they could not measure up to the code of purity laid down by the religious elite. In other words, they were not good enough to attend worship–they were excluded. So God sends them a personal message–YOUR Savior is born and this is where you can find Him. The religious elites knew nothing about Jesus birth because God revealed Himself to the lowly shepherds instead of the religious elites.
  • A Savior is born. The word ‘Savior’ is sōtēr [so-tay-ah] and it was used of both kings and gods. It could also be translated deliverer. The world had seen many kings and there were more gods than Carter has liver pills but none were true saviors. No one had saved us from the power of sin. No one had ever saved us from the power of death or even fear of death. Epictetus, the Greek stoic philosopher said, “While the emperor may give peace from war on land and sea, he is unable to give peace from passion, grief, and envy. He cannot give peace of heart for which man yearns more than outward peace.”
  • The Messiah, the Christ {Christos}, the Anointed One. The long-awaited one. 
  • The Lord {kyrios}: master, lord, the possessor and disposer of a thing, the owner; one who has control of the person, the sovereign, prince, or chief.

After seeing Him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child.  All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished.

The Shepherds simply repeated the message: They did not create a message, they simply repeated the same message the Angles gave them:  Secondly, they told everyone. They did not discriminate. If there is any place where I have dropped the ball, where the church at large has dropped the ball, it is in sharing the gospel with anyone who will listen. We are living in a nation of gospel iliterates because we have failed to share the good tiding with all people.

[2] Both are faithful to discharge their duties.

The Angels delivered their message and gave praise and glory to God…

 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.” Then the angels returned to heaven. [v.15]

The Shepherds, after worshipping at the manger and telling everyone they saw about the good news returned to their flocks…

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.

III. LAST BUT NOT LEAST–THE IRONIES

I think it is very ironic that the religious elites in Jerusalem despised the shepherds of Bethlehem when you consider the fact that the three brightest stars in the Hebrews heaven were Abraham, Moses and David. What did all three have in common? They were SHEPHERDS! Be careful whom you despise. God may favor them just as he did these poor shepherds.

Secondly: What was Christ? Was He not the GOOD SHEPHERD and also the LAMB OF GOD.

CONCLUSION

William Barclay is not a lot of help in Luke 2 but he did say one thing in his commentary that caught my attention. He told about a European monarch, who upon occassion would dress like a peasant and go out among the people. When he was asked by his staff not to do this for security reasons, he said, “I cannot rule my people unless I know how they live.” Christ is our GOOD SHEPHERD and GREAT KING. He dressed Himself in the garb of our flesh and walked among us. He knows our sorrow; He is acquainted with our grief. He knows our fears and anxiety. He knows our sin and transgression and He came to save from it all. Why don’t you trust Christ today? God cannot give you peace of mind and heart apart from giving you HIS SON. Jesus and Peace are one in the same: if you reject Jesus, you will never have peace. There is no peace for a rebel. Trust Christ today.