|WHILE SHEPHERDS WASHED THEIR
Pastor Stephen Muncherian
December 19, 1999
Luke 2:8-20: And in the same region there were some shepherds staying our in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around the; and they were terribly frightened. And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall 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. And this will be a sign for you; you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger.” 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.” And it came about when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that 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.” And they came in haste and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. And 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. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.
Years ago - a friend of mine changed the words of the Christmas hymn, “While shepherds watched their flocks by night.” She changed the words to, “While shepherds washed their socks by night....”
How typical was that night - mundane. Shepherds out in the field - late at night - doing what they had done the night before that and the night before that. Shepherds - surrounded by the stench of sheep - sitting around a fire - telling sheep jokes. Probably the last thing on their minds was the coming of the Messiah.
Suddenly there is the Angel - and this message, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news. Your Savior is born in Bethlehem. You’ll find him lying in a manger.”
The tapestry of the night sky is ripped apart - the glory of heaven bursts through into human life - an uncountable number of angels are praising God - saying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” And then they’re gone. The shepherds are left in the field listening to the sound of their sheep.
We know this account - and its been fantastic to relive it again this morning with the Scripture readings - the songs. The shepherds who went to Bethlehem - found Jesus - told everyone about the angels and their message - and left glorifying and praising God - left to go back to the mundane world of their fields and sheep.
Which brings us to a question this morning. Tomorrow is Monday - life as usual. What difference does all this make in our lives?
In the early days of Jesus’ ministry He came to Nazareth - the town where He had grown up. As was His custom on the Sabbath - He went to the local synagogue for services.
In those days - in the synagogue - there would first be a time of prayer - then a Scripture reading - then a time of teaching and discussion about the reading. On this day - after the prayer - Jesus stood up to read and was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah.
This is what He read: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18,19)
These verses are a prophetic passage - which speak of the coming Messiah. Then - after He read - Jesus sat down to teach. He began with these words: “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21)
In the midst of everything - we need to remember who Jesus us. Time accelerates and there is never enough. We’re rushing constantly - often feeling trapped by our schedule and obligations. We run. But we don’t know where. Our minds are filled with endless details. We go to sleep exhausted and wake up tired.
Worse is when we feel trapped morally and spiritually. Past sins and failures come back to haunt us. We see no way out from our present struggles.
Many lack direction and purpose and hope for their lives. Empty inside they ask, “Is this all there is?”
Jesus said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are ill.” (Matthew 9:12)
He came for us - the poor, the captives, the blind, the downtrodden. This is our favorable year!
At Christmas we celebrate the birth of the Savior who is able to forgive our sins, heal our wounds, and meet our deepest needs. On Monday - as we do everyday - we need Jesus.
First, the prophet Isaiah wrote of Jesus: “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
Jesus is the “Wonderful Counselor” - Which means that Jesus takes all of the incomprehensible wisdom of God and lovingly applies it to each circumstance of our lives.
Jesus is the “Mighty God” - Which means that He is the only one who is able to deliver us.
Jesus is the “Eternal Father” - Tender, faithful, wise, the provider for His people - applying all the resources of heaven to our lives.
And, Isaiah says that Jesus is the “Prince of Peace” - Jesus said, “My peace I give to you - not as the world gives - I’m not offering the type of peace that comes from this world - My peace I’m giving to you.” (John 14:27) Jesus is the only one who can give us real peace - lasting peace in our hearts - peace with God - forgiveness for our sins and the restoring of our relationship with God.
If you have never given your life to Him - trusted Jesus as your Savior - today, trust Him. He has come to set you free from the guilt of your sins and to give you life - life as God intends for it to be lived - today - tomorrow and forever.
Second - remember the response of the shepherds. Luke writes that they went back to their fields, “glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen.” (Luke 2:20) We need to be testifying - praising - telling everyone of Jesus. People - today and tomorrow - Monday - need to hear this incredible message. Jesus has come.