Christmas is a time when
we celebrate the birth of Jesus the Savior of the
He is the anointed of the
Lord, the Messiah.
The first to celebrate
were some shepherds outside of the town of
Bethlehem. "An angel of the Lord suddenly stood
before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around
them; and they were terribly frightened" (Luke 2:9).
Angels joined them announcing the birth of "a
Savior, who is Christ the Lord." Suddenly the whole
heaven were praising God. They were singing, "Glory
to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men
with whom he is pleased" (v. 14).
Heaven is still
worshipping Him. The apostle John was permitted to
peek in and see what was taking place around the
throne of the LORD God. "They sang a new song,
saying, 'Worthy art Thou to take the book, and to
break its seals; for Thou wast slain, and didst
purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe
and tongue and people and nation" (Revelation5:9).
They are still singing "Worthy is the Lamb that was
slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and
might and honor and glory and blessing" (v. 12).
Are you celebrating His
coming today? Come, let's celebrate.
GOD SAYS IT'S TIME TO
The first to celebrate
were some poor, despised and downtrodden shepherds.
"In the same region there were some shepherds
staying out in the fields and keeping watch over
their flock by night" (v. 8). They were looked down
upon, and excluded from society. The rabbis despised
them as "next door to heathen."
They were involved in the
mundane, the routine, keeping the woollies in the
night. These shepherds were probably Temple
shepherds, making sure there would be unblemished
lambs to be sacrificed to God in the morning and
evening sacrifices in the Jerusalem Temple not far
away. The Temple flock was pastured near the town of
Bethlehem. Did these shepherds perceive that they
were worshipping the "Lamb of God who would take
away the sin of the world" (John 1:29)?
James Kelso, an
archaeologist, observed the landscape one year while
working in this area of Israel. He thinks, "The best
season for the shepherds of Bethlehem is the winter
when heavy rains bring up a luscious crop of new
grass. After the rains the once-barren, brown desert
earth is suddenly a field of brilliant green. . . .
One shepherd stayed with his flock at the same point
for three weeks, so lush was the grass. But as soon
as the rains stopped in the spring, the land quickly
took on its normal desert look once again." He
concludes, "December or January would be the most
likely months" the shepherds came to see the child
God passed over the
self-important, the High Priest, Herod the Great,
the Jewish religious leaders, the Pharisees, the
theologians, the politicians, Rome and Jerusalem.
Wait, does God have His values misplaced? The Son of
God is lying in an animal's feeding trough.
The Shekinah glory
These Temple Shepherds
saw the Shekinah glory of God for the first time in
centuries. The Lord God announced the arrival of the
Good Shepherd to these bone tired shepherds who were
tending the lambs for the Temple sacrifices. "And an
angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and
the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they
were terribly frightened. But the angel said to
them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you
good news of great joy which will be for all the
people; for today in the city of David there has
been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord"
(v. 9-11). The Greek does not say "the angel" of the
Lord but "an angel of the Lord." It is not a
Christophany as in the Old Testament. It is not a
certain specific angel as "the Angel of the Lord"
who was the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. This was a
regular angel sent to announce the coming of the
Phillips translates "the
splendor of the Lord blazed round them." All is
quiet in the night, and suddenly it happened. The
glory of the Lord flashed all around them—heavenly
brightness, manifestation of God's presence and
power like at the burning bush and the Tabernacle.
The "glory of the Lord
shone around them." The idea is "to encircle,
encompass with light." The shepherds were completely
encompassed in light, the light of "the glory of the
Lord." This "light" was the Shekinah, the brilliant
white light of God's eternal glory. It represented
the holy presence of Yahweh (Ex. 24:16-17). This was
the same light that would be seen later at the
transfiguration of Jesus (Matt. 17:5).
For over 500 years the
people of Israel had not sent the visible
manifestation of Yahweh's presence with them and now
He revealed Himself to these humble shepherds, not
the high priest, the Pharisees or Sadducees.
The message of the
angel (v. 10-11)
Angels always have
something funny to say. Imagine you're being
startled by a heavenly messenger, and then he says
to you, "Stop being afraid." These poor shepherds
were "terribly frightened," terror stricken, seized
with fear so the angel calms them down so they can
hear the true meaning of Christmas.
We've come with some
"good news." It is "good news of great joy
which will be for all the people." Literally the
angel said, "I evangelize to you a great joy." And
it is not just for you but also for all the people.
The implication is—now you go and tell what you
The good news is the
"Savior, who is Christ the Lord" has been born. The
angel told them, "for today in the city of David
there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ
the Lord" (v. 11). I wonder if the good news is that
these humble shepherds are the ones God has prepared
to hear the Word. Perhaps in the quietness of the
night they have reflected on the destiny of the
sheep that they have become attached to and are
quietly awaiting the Lamb of God. A. T. Robertson
tells us, "This great word 'Savior' is common in
Luke and Paul and seldom elsewhere in the N.T.
(Bruce). The people under Rome's rule came to call
the emperor 'Saviour' and Christians took the word
and used it of Christ."
Every word in that great
statement in verse eleven is loaded with great
truth. The city of David, the city of Bethlehem, the
one that the prophet Micah spoke of, is the location
of this marvelous event tonight. The Messiah, the
Anointed One, the Messiah the Lord has to come from
David's city. He cannot be born anywhere else and be
the Messiah. If Jesus had been born in Nazareth and
claimed to be the Messiah every Jewish scholar would
have declared Him an impostor and rightfully so.
Being born in Bethlehem, Judea is part of His
credentials. The combination "Christ the Lord"
occurs only here in the New Testament. It is best to
take it in its fullest meaning. He is clearly the
longed for expectation in the Old Testament of
Christ—the Anointed of the Lord. The stress in the
original language is on the character and the
quality of this person's life. "Christ" (christos)
is from the Greek word meaning "the Anointed One."
The word Messiah is from the Hebrew word for
"Anointed One." As the anointed of the Lord He is
the Spirit-controlled man. It characterizes His
This technical meaning of
"Messiah" is found in Psalm 2:2. "The kings of the
earth take their stand, and the rulers take counsel
together against the LORD and against His Anointed
(Messiah)." Luke has already stated the role of the
Anointed One in 1:31-35. The emphasis on the fact
that Jesus is a descendent of "the house of David"
underscores this messianic character (1:27, 32, 69;
The word "Lord" (kurios)
is used here for Yahweh of the Old Testament. The
Anointed One is also the embodiment of God,
undiminished deity as Paul tells us, "For in Him all
the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form" (Col.
He has been born today!
It is a paradox—a seemingly contradiction. He who
was and is eternal God has been also born. He became
flesh. "Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear an
son . . . . For a child will be born to us, a Son
will be given . . ." When God became man and took
upon Himself true humanity He became a baby. Yes,
the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father,
Prince of Peace has been born! The 400 years of
silence was suddenly broken. God spoke! "Today in
the city of David there has been born for you as
Savior, who is Christ the Lord." Today.
How do you know all that
is true? Here is the objective evidence: "This will
be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in
cloths and lying in a manger" (v. 12). How will you
be able to identify Him? Go to Bethlehem, the city
of David, and find a newborn baby wrapped in
swaddling cloths lying in a cow trough! Perhaps
Jesus was not the only one born that night in
Bethlehem. But there was not any other newborn baby
found in a feeding trough that night.
Bring out the band
If that was not enough to
get those shepherds on the move suddenly a great
army of heaven starts praising God and giving Him
honor and glory for what is taking place. "And
suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude
of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 'Glory
to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men
with whom He is pleased'" (vv. 13-14). Call out the
troops! Surprise follows surprise. All of a sudden
an entire army of angels descends around those
shepherds. Celestial brilliance blazed all around
Can you celebrate the
true meaning of Christmas? Have you given
Christ your whole heart? Do you have the
integrity of heart? Do you know the deep,
intimate, peace of God? Can you sing and
praise and glorify His name?
The Christmas story tells
us "there is salvation in no one else; for there is
no other name under heaven that has been given among
men, by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). It
should cause our hearts to sing out the "Gloria in
excelsis Deo." It is a hymn of praise to the
LORD God. The birth of the Savior brings glory to
God. He is held in highest opinion and esteem and
therefore praise, honor and glory. He alone receives
the most exalted place in the universe. The chief
end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
The shepherds weren't excited about meeting angels,
but experiencing the glory of God's holy presence.
Let's see for
ourselves (vv. 15-16)
The shepherds kept on
saying to one another let's go with urgency and see
for ourselves. "When the angels had gone away from
them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one
another, 'Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and
see this thing that has happened which the Lord has
made known to us.' So they came in a hurry and found
their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay
in the manger" (vv. 15-16).
The uniqueness of the
Christian faith is that each individual must come to
an intimate personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
No one else's faith can count for your own. Your
mother or father may have been faithful Christians,
but their faith or good life will not save you. Even
though Jesus Christ went to the cross and died in
your place to pay your sin debt you cannot have a
right relationship with God until you acknowledge to
Him that you are a sinner and believe on Him.
Eternal life is a free gift but it is not automatic
and it is not universal. It takes a personal faith
in Christ to save you.
The Savior is Christ the
Lord. There is none other. He is no longer a baby,
nor confined to a crib; He is now seated at the
right hand of God, and aware of our attitudes and
actions toward Him. We should store up in our memory
His Word and ponder it in our hearts because one day
we will each one stand before Him and give an
account of ourselves to Him. "When God spoke, Mary
listened." God has spoken to us; have we listened to
Him? What is our personal response to the demands of
Jesus Christ upon each of us? The Great Shepherd has
come; what is your response to Him?
missionaries in the New Testament (v. 17-18)
Luke tells us the first
missionaries were some crusty old weather beaten
shepherds who hastened to go and tell some good
news. "When they had seen this, they made known the
statement which had been told them about this Child.
And all who heard it wondered at the things which
were told them by the shepherds" (vv. 17-18). The
shepherds kept on searching around that night until
they found the baby in the manger and when they had
seen this they spread the word concerning Him.
Martin Luther stood at
the rebirth of Europe and declared, "This age is
Satan's own." John Green declared 200 years ago in
England, "Never had religion seemed at a low ebb;
the Church had sunk to insignificance, the bulk of
the clergy were indolent, lax and poor; statesmen
are unbelievers and grossly immoral; purity and
fidelity are sneered out of fashion; twenty young
thieves are hung in one day in one prison." As White
asked, "Who could have guessed that in that age God
was preparing the Wesleys and Whitefield for
England, the Haldanes for Scotland, and Carey for
It is ever so. God is at
work all about us. Let's plead with Him to prepare
our hearts to the place where He can feel free to
invite us to come and join Him where He is
The baby book of
the heart (v. 19)
What do mothers do when a
baby is born? They start a baby book. Mary
"treasured up all these things, pondering them in
her heart" (v. 19). Mary was treasuring, carefully
storing away, and putting them all together in her
mind. The word means to keep in mind, to hold or
treasure up (in one's memory). As she "treasured"
these things in her mind she was "pondering,"
reflecting upon and "placing together for
comparison" all of these experiences. Imagine for a
moment what it was like when Dr. Luke interviewed
her forty years later for this Gospel. He knew the
right questions to ask Mary. She is his source for
this passage. I can hear her taking out the baby
book in the treasury of her memory and walking him
through each page. Will it not be wonderful when we
get a chance to talk to her personally in heaven and
ask all the questions that we want to ask? It will
not be an invasion of her privacy. It will be the
joy of that little mother's heart to tell about her
family here on the earth.
What is in the treasury
of your heart today? What are you storing up in the
memory cells of your heart? Do you often reflect on
what is there? Is there a growing experience with
Christ? This is the only way Christ can
ever settle down and make Himself at home. By
doing the same thing as Mary you are able to
"comprehend with all the saints what is the breath
and length and height and depth, and to know the
love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you
may be filled up to all the fullness of God."
What kind of song
are you singing? (v. 20)
The shepherds had the
privilege of seeing it for themselves. They went
back to their fields "glorifying and praising God
for all that they had heard and seen." Our response
can be like the shepherds in v. 20. What song are
you singing this Christmas? You can't sing unless
you have a song. Those shepherds have just left the
greatest worship service they had ever attended!
They were full of song and message from God. They
had no other song to sing but Jesus.
When a Jewish father had
a son born to him they brought out the band and the
local musicians gathered at the father's home and
greeted him with music. When the heavenly Father's
Son became flesh He gathered His celestial choir and
they sang songs of praise to Him. The angels of
heaven sang songs for Jesus when there were no
earthly singers to sing. The heavenly Father is
celebrating that night in Bethlehem.
Are you glorifying and
praising God for all that you have heard and seen
today? Has He put a song in your heart? Have you
seen and heard things that cause you to go back from
whence you came with a song of glorifying and
praising God? The need to praise God is universal
and this passage of Scripture should encourage us to
join in the heavenly choir. We need to daily give
verbal praise to the LORD God.
Title: Luke 2:8-20
Christmas: It is Time to Celebrate
Series: Life of