The Divine Birth Announcement
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. . . . And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people."
—Luke 2:8, 10
Each mother and father remember when they announced that they were expecting with a child. And when the baby was born I am sure you remember the first people you called to excitingly proclaim the little ones arrival. You shared with them the weight, length, color of their eyes and hair ( that is if they had hair). You were so proud to tell them the time of birth and every other detail you could think about sharing. And what made this announcement more enjoyable was you were sharing with those you loved and were the closest to you! Those you know would enjoy the news and be just as interested in the happening as you were.
When God sent the angel to announce the birth of His Son, whom did He tell first? Don’t you find it interesting to who it was that the first announcement of Christ’s birth was to shepherds.? I would have thought it would have been announced to others before these lowly shepherds. He could have sent Gabriel starting with Caesar Augustus. He could have sent the angel to appear in Caesar’s court and announce, “the only true Savior of the world has arrived, it is not you, you are not God, I AM!”
Gabriel could have taken this first announcement to the religious leaders of that day. Those who had become so vile in religion and so far away from a relationship with God. Can you imagine hearing Gabriel say “Wake up! The Messiah has been born! The One you talk about, the One you say you look for—He is here! Prepare to meet your God!”
To the human mind it would have made sense to make the announcement first to the influential, nobility, government officials, those who had means to get the word out, those who managed people not sheep.
But the Lord was revealing both His mind and heart in His birth announcement. Instead, He first announced the birth of Jesus to shepherds. Through the centuries many of songs, writings and paintings have portrayed these shepherds of the Christmas story in ways that are not biblically and historically accurate. We must understand in that time shepherds lived lowly lives. They were at the low end of social status.
Shepherds were so disrespected and looked down upon that their testimonies were not even allowed in a court of law. Shepherds did the work that no one else wanted to do. They worked hard, they were with the sheep 24 hours a day and that work was smelling and dirty. They were perceived as unclean because they could not observe the ceremonial hand washings. They were the outcasts, the nobodies, common labors who everybody needed but no-one wanted. The only people lower in social acceptance and status were those suffering from leprosy.
So now we are beginning to see how astounding it really is that the first announcement of the Messiah’s birth was in such a fashion. Our loving Lord decides to announce His birth and share the GOOD NEWS with SHEPHERDS FIRST! In fields, as they were tending sheep, at work, at night, to the outcast, to the common, to the ordinary, to the less-regarded.
This biblical fact should give hope to all because in the great reality of truth every human is simply a shepherd. We are made from the dust, born under curse, poor in spirit, outcasts, common, suffering from a leprosy called sin. Some shepherds wear $1000 suits, some live in million dollar homes but the great reality is they are poor, lowly, shepherds as are all humans on this earth. That is all. And the announcement of Jesus Christ’s birth is to every shepherd, in every place, in every moment of time “bringing good tidings of great joy….for unto each shepherd is born a Savior Christ the Lord.”
This should give each of us “ordinary people” hope. For those who have received this hope through Christ may this season one of great rejoicing and a time of rededicating ourselves to take that hope to the world. For the one who has yet to receive hope through Christ alone may this be the moment for you to bow your head and heart before the Lord in repentance of sin and acceptance of the ONE WHO WAS BORN THAT FIRST CHRISTMAS!
What Can I Give Christ For Christmas ?
True followers of Jesus Christ know the true meaning of Christmas. Yet every year it seems very difficult not to be sucked into the ways the world celebrates the season. How much of our season actually is centered around celebrating Christ? Now that is a question each of who truly loves Jesus must ask ourselves at this time of year.
If we are not careful the activities at this time will crowd out the special opportunity that is availed during this precious month to make CHRIST more centered in our individual life, family life and church life. As we seek to give just the right gifts to those we love may we not forget to GIVE TO THE ONE WHO GAVE ALL HE HAD FOR US!
Let me suggest several gift ideas we can give to our precious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ this Christmas! I am certain that as we present our Lord with gifts He deserves He will be well pleased and we will be abundantly blessed within. There is no joy like giving and no greater joy than to give to our Lord!
1. Give Him The Gift Of Your Faith!
The Christmas story teaches us to trust and submit to God’s sovereign plan. Mary, Joseph, Zacharias, the shepherds each teach us the proper response to the coming of the Lord. They trusted in the written prophecies concerning the Messiah’s coming and they trusted in the the God given words of the angel. Mary trusted in the words of Elisabeth as she was filled with the Spirit and proclaimed that Mary would give birth to the Lord! They trusted in the words of Zacharias as he also was filled with the Spirit and proclaimed the LIGHT had come to those who sat in darkness, and that the light was Jesus Christ! On the night of the Lord’s birth there was faith and trust in the hearts of the shepherds as the angel proclaimed “ For unto you this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord”. They believed that the Sovereign Savior had come in the fullness of time. They trusted Him by faith. Few things honor God more than our trust. May we give Christ our trust by exercising great faith in His words, His purposes, His calling on our lives. It is “Impossible to please God without faith”, so may we trust Him more and as we do He will receive a gift which brings pleasure to the ONE we love!
For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.—Luke 1:37–38
2. Give Him The Gift Of Loving Others.
Get alone sometime and present your life to God as a gift offered to Him as you choose to yield to the Holy Spirit to actions of love for others. Visit a hospital room or a shut in. Visit a Mission and help serve a dinner and visit with the homeless. Invite a lonely widow or widower to church and better yet invite them to a Christmas meal or function. Call a stop to the Christmas busyness and make time to really love others in tangible ways. After all that is what Christ did on that first Christmas, He came to love us. He came to be born so that He might die on the cross for our sins. There is no greater love than to die for others. May we this Christmas give Christ the gift of our yielding to His control to lead us to others who He wants to love through us.
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.—Matthew 25:40
3. Give Him The Gift Of Tangible Items.
Give special Christmas financial gifts to your church, missionaries or the less fortunate. Give Him a gift of time or talent for the new year. After prayer perhaps you may decide to read the Bible daily, to join an organized prayer group, to attend church more faithfully, to begin to serve him in a particular area. Perhaps decide to give an increase in your weekly financial giving, to use your giftedness in His church. To work in the bus ministry , teach a class, visit a widow weekly, sing in the choir, play in the orchestra, wash a church van or a seniors car weekly, you get the idea. What tangible gift could you give that would make Christmas more about Jesus. Either personally or as a family, find a way to give to the Lord or to others in His name this Christmas.
And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.—Matthew 2:11
4. Give Him The Gift Of Sharing The Gospel.
Christmas presents many opportunities for conversations about the Lord. Whether it be asking a co-worker about their holiday traditions and then sharing yours, or bringing cookies over to your neighbors with an invitation to a special church service where the gospel will be presented, this is a wonderful season to tell others about Christ and why He came. Take this special time to present our Savior with the gift of sharing the Christmas Story with all we come into contact with this season. After all that is the true meaning of the season celebration. Our Lord came to be born of a virgin, He lived a sinless life, He died on the cross to pay for the sins of all people, He was buried in a grave and arose from the dead. And because of that “ Whosoever calls upon Him shall be saved’. “ A Savior was born”. And the Sovereign Savior is coming again. May we rejoice and bring gifts to our Sovereign Savior just as they did that first Christmas Day!
And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.—Luke 2:17-18
Terry has been the Senior Pastor of Liberty for 30 years. He and his wife, Karen, have 4 children, 11 grandchildren, and 1 spoiled dog named Cooper.