Merry Christmas! We’ve been in a series talking about the circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus. Today, I want us to read the Christmas Story from Luke’s Gospel and finish building our own Nativity.
Luke 2:7 says, “And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” The word “stable” is not found in the Nativity story but the word “manger” is used repeatedly. The shelter could have been a wood enclosure but it was more than likely a cave. Jesus was born in a cave and buried in a cave but He was not planning on staying in either cave very long! God sent His son to be born in a barn in front of animals, not in a palace in front of Kings. Bethlehem was crowded! If God can create the heavens and the earth, part the Red Sea, cause the sun to stand still, and send a star to guide the Wise Men from the East, why was there not one room available? A homeless birth was part of the plan. It was no accident. It is not like God forgot to make a reservation at the inn!
Tim Keller says, “The manger at Christmas means that, if you live like Jesus, there won’t be room for you in a lot of inns.” Don’t get too accustomed to the comforts of this world. This world is not our home. We are just passing through. In the Father’s house there are many mansions, more than enough room for you (Jn. 14:2). Jesus was laid in a manger on earth, so we could live in a mansion in heaven and walk on streets of gold! 2 Corinthians 8:9 says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” Some days we do not have room for Jesus in our schedules and on our calendars, but remember, He has made room and prepared a place for us.
Luke 2:8-14 tells of the angel’s message to the shepherds. There are so many things we can learn from this encounter. Verse 9 says when the angel appeared, “the glory of the Lord shone around them.” Jesus is the Light of the World and He will be a light when the days are dark and you don’t know what to do. In verse 10, the angel told the shepherds, “Do not be afraid.” Do not live in fear, live by faith! In the same verse, we read that the angel brought good news. The message was encouraging! Listen to this news, the hope that Jesus brings, and you will not be discouraged. Verse 11 says, “there is born to you….” Salvation is personal! It is not based on race or religion or your parents or anyone else; it’s based on what Jesus did for you! The angel told the shepherds, “You will find a babe….” You will find what you are looking for in life. Whether that’s bad, good, negative, positive, a party crowd, or other believers. Finally, we read that “there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God….” There is a heaven! Our worship should be like the worship of heaven. The angels remind us that worship should be with “great joy and glory to God!”
The Bible says the Egyptians and the religious rulers of Jesus’ day despised shepherds. They were considered ceremonially unclean, having a job everyone needed and no one wanted. They were the least appreciated, but God saw their work and rewarded them. If you feel unnoticed and unappreciated, Jesus sees you. God comes in unexpected times to unexpected places and He uses unexpected people. David was a shepherd. Moses was a shepherd. Jesus is the Good, Great, Chief Shepherd.
In the Nativity story, the shepherds’ search ended when they found Jesus. What you are searching for in life you will find in Jesus! Luke 2:11 says, “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Is Jesus your Savior? Do you believe He is the Christ? Is Jesus Lord of your life?
The shepherds met Jesus and they left telling the message. They went back to their old occupation, but they had a new job; they were messengers on a mission. Are you living on mission, sharing the message of Jesus? How will you go back to your job this January?