JOY – the Shepherds

    Searching His Word, Seeking His Heart

Shepherds? Dirty smelly shepherds? What are they doing in this story of the birth of the Son of God? After all, they’re not even fit to testify in a court of law.

Of course, Temple leaders were glad to purchase their sheep for Temple sacrifices—and earn money in the process when they sold the sheep.

Yet, these keepers of the flocks are the very ones to whom the angel appeared to bear the news of the Savior.

Imagine the shock of those shepherds when they were aroused by the brilliant light of the angel on that dark, sleepy night. Like other angelic visitations, the shepherds were startled.

“Do not be frightened,” the angel said. “I bring you good news of great JOY. Today in the town of David [Bethlehem] a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11

“Christ” is the Greek word for “Messiah.” This is big stuff, my friends. The shepherds may not have been learned men of the ancient texts, but they did know what this meant.

Now just to make a more human connection for them, they were given a sign to help them see for themselves. (Note—it was not the star. That was given to the Magi.)

“You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12

As if they weren’t totally awed by this angel, a heavenly host of angels appeared, filling the skies with more brilliance, declaring their praise to God and peace to those who believe.

We don’t know if the angels suddenly disappeared or flew away a few at a time. But when they were all gone and it was a dark night again, I wonder if the shepherds sat stunned for a few moments wondering if they really saw what they thought they saw. 

A light bulb may have flipped on in one of their minds as if suddenly remembering the sign. “Let’s go down to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened.” Imagine their hearts pumping as they took off in a run.

Where would they go? I’d say manger to manger, looking for a baby. No one else would put a newborn in a feeding trough. So, if they found a baby in one of these stables, that would definitely be the one.

When they tip-toed quietly into the stable, they told their story. This wasn’t the dazzling JOY they had experienced on the hillside. No, this was heartfelt, fall-to-your-knees kind of JOY that brings tears to your eyes.

They left the stable and spread the word of all the things they had seen and heard.

. . . and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. Luke 2:18

God sent the news of His sacrificial lamb to the shepherds of lambs. Years later, Jesus declared himself the good shepherd.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11

The shepherd to lead you, the sacrificial lamb to save you. Blessed be his holy name. Merry Christmas.

~ Joyce ~

Mary – Me?

         

         Searching His Word

                    Seeking His Heart

Before the Christmas birth story in Luke 2, we find the back-story of Mary in Luke 1.

The story unfolds at a time when her relative, Elizabeth, is in the sixth month of pregnancy. We are given a short introduction to Mary. 

In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name is Mary. Luke 1:26-27

So, we know that Mary lives in Nazareth, is engaged to Joseph, and is still a virgin. It is important that Joseph is a “descendant of David” because the prophecy proclaims that the Messiah will come through the line of David.

Gabriel speaks,

“Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Luke 1:28

I picture Mary alone in her house doing something mundane like cutting up vegetables. To have anyone suddenly appear in your house would startle you, but when that someone is angelic (perhaps emanating light), it can be downright frightening. But more than his presence, it was his words that concerned her most.

Mary was greatly troubled by his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.” Luke 1:29-30

Imagine how overwhelmed you would be if an angel came to you and said you had found favor with God. You might question why and feel so unworthy. Me? What have I done to deserve this. Mary might have thought, “I’m just a common Jewish girl.” Gabriel piles on more amazing words.

“You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” Luke 1:31-33

Whoa, slow down, Gabriel. This is more than a girl can take in! Her response lets us know that she stopped hearing his message after “give birth to a son.” She asked,

“How will this be since I am a virgin?” Luke 1:34

Graciously, Gabriel explains in more detail how this will be.

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:35

Has the Lord ever given you a task, a task you feel is beyond you? He specializes in doing things like that. You see, if it is a task we can easily do, then we don’t have to depend on Him. Every now and then, He “honors us” with an assignment that goes beyond ourselves, one in which we must trust Him. 

Next week, we will look at one of the choice promises that comes out of this account with Mary.

~ Joyce ~