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Incarnation Contemplation - Birth and Shepherds

Posted on December 20, 2015 at 6:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Luke 2:1(VOICE) Around the time of Elizabeth’s amazing pregnancy and John’s birth, the emperor in Rome, Caesar Augustus, required everyone in the Roman Empire to participate in a massive census— 2 the first census since Quirinius had become governor of Syria. 3 Each person had to go to his or her ancestral city to be counted. 4-5 Mary’s fiancé Joseph, from Nazareth in Galilee, had to participate in the census in the same way everyone else did. Because he was a descendant of King David, his ancestral city was Bethlehem, David’s birthplace. Mary, who was now late in her pregnancy that the messenger Gabriel had predicted, 6 accompanied Joseph.

 

The Roman emperor wanted to have an accurate count of every family in order to impose taxes on them. The fact that Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem reiterates that he was descended from King David and fulfills the Old Testament prophecy that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Bethlehem in Hebrew means “house of bread”. Jesus would later be called the Bread of Life. He also compared Himself to manna at one point. John 6:35 Jesus: I am the bread that gives life. If you come to My table and eat, you will never go hungry. Believe in Me, and you will never go thirsty.

 

Luke 2:6 While in Bethlehem, she went into labor 7 and gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped the baby in a blanket and laid Him in a feeding trough because the inn had no room for them.

 

Jesus was laid in a feeding trough, which goes back to the Bread of Life again. The Eternal being placed in a feeding trough because He is the food, the life source of man. I am sure the inns were packed because David had many descendants (as the Lord had promised him) that had to travel there. However, how often do we have so much “stuff” crammed into the inn of our heart, that Jesus is crowded out of our consciousness?

 

Luke 2:8 Nearby, in the fields outside of Bethlehem, a group of shepherds were guarding their flocks from predators in the darkness of night.

 

Shepherds were the least of the working class in that day. They were on one of the lowest rungs of society’s ladder. These particular shepherds may have been guarding the flocks used for sacrifices in the temple. That God chose to announce the birth of His Son first to this group of people shows that He has no favoritism of class. His interest is solely in the hearts of humanity, not where they are on the socio-economic strata. He invited the shepherds to be the first to worship the perfect Lamb of God. They were allowed VIP access even before the Magi, the wise men, from the east.

 

 

Reformation Study Bible:

Shepherds were a despised class because their work prevented them from keeping the ceremonial law, and as they moved about the country it was common for them to be regarded as thieves. They were considered unreliable and were not allowed to give evidence in the courts.

 

Luke 2:9 Suddenly a messenger of the Lord stood in front of them, and the darkness was replaced by a glorious light—the shining light of God’s glory. They were terrified!

 

When angels appear, the first response is to fall on your face afraid. Imagine how you would respond if you were out in the middle of nowhere on a pitch black night, and suddenly the sky lit up like daylight!

 

Messenger: 10 Don’t be afraid! Listen! I bring good news, news of great joy, news that will affect all people everywhere. 11 Today, in the city of David, a Liberator has been born for you! He is the promised Anointed One, the Supreme Authority! 12 You will know you have found Him when you see a baby, wrapped in a blanket, lying in a feeding trough.

 

Angels almost always begin with “Fear not!” because their appearance can be overwhelming. This angel declares he has something good to tell them. Joyful news of the Messiah’s birth. All three namesLiberator (Savior), Anointed One (Christ or Messiah), and Lord (used for God in the Old Testament)were used to describe the baby that had been born in Bethlehem. The shepherds themselves had probably been born somewhere better than a stable. To their astonishment, they were told that this Baby King was born in a stable and would actually be lying on hay where the cattle fed!

 

Luke 2:13 At that moment, the first heavenly messenger was joined by thousands of other messengers—a vast heavenly choir. They praised God.

 

14 Heavenly Choir: To the highest heights of the universe, glory to God!

And on earth, peace among all people who bring pleasure to God!

 

I imagine the shepherds were now shaking in their sandals. If one angel was terrifying, how much more fearsome would an army of them be? But this army was announcing peace, not war.

Peace had come for all people who bring pleasure to God. You will have peace when you give God pleasure. When you are not a peace, the question is “are you giving God pleasure or are you breaking His heart because you are not being or becoming what He created you for?” We need to ask ourselves, “What pleases God?” Micah 6:8 “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Walking humbly with God would involve surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus, in other words receiving the gift of salvation with the full realization that there is no way you could ever earn it.

 

Luke 2:15 As soon as the heavenly messengers disappeared into heaven, the shepherds were buzzing with conversation.

 

Shepherds: Let’s rush down to Bethlehem right now! Let’s see what’s happening! Let’s experience what the Lord has told us about!

 

The shepherds were eager to go and see what the angel had reported to them, this awesome baby King.

 

Luke 2:16 So they ran into town, and eventually they found Mary and Joseph and the baby lying in the feeding trough. After they saw the baby, 17 they spread the story of what they had experienced and what had been said to them about this child. 18 Everyone who heard their story couldn’t stop thinking about its meaning. 19 Mary, too, pondered all of these events, treasuring each memory in her heart.

 

20 The shepherds returned to their flocks, praising God for all they had seen and heard, and they glorified God for the way the experience had unfolded just as the heavenly messenger had predicted.

 

The shepherds didn’t just talk about going to Bethlehem, they did it right away. They found everything just as the angel had described it. Then they became a holy news crew spreading the Good News to all who would hear them. I’m sure the people were wondering, “Could this really be the Messiah?” Mary wanted to file these memories in her heart, perhaps to be able to recount these wondrous things to Jesus as He grew.

 

The shepherds’ response is to glorify God. They did not chalk it all up to some kind of psychological breakdown but realized they had seen something divine and totally real. At some point they may have wondered, “If we tell people this, will anyone believe us, or are we going to be locked away forever?” But God revealed Himself to them in such a mighty way that they could not doubt the reality of the encounter. No matter what happened they were going to faithfully announce this Good News wherever they went no matter the consequences.

 

APPLY THIS TO YOUR LIFE:

 

1. Make room amid the busyness of this season, for Jesus to break through into your thoughts and actions. Do not relegate Him to the stable of your life.

2. Do not confine Jesus to two or three holidays in your year or even one day a week. Celebrate and worship every day with your entire being!

3. Remember that Jesus revealed Himself to the lowest of society. We should tell His story with words and actions to all people groups.

4. Seek peace with God through a relationship with Jesus, and continue to have peace in your life as you obey God.

5. Spread the Gospel even if people discourage you by their response. As Christians we are here to please the Audience of One. It is our job to present the way to salvation, but it is the work of the Holy Spirit to draw the person.