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May 15, 2020

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Bible Gem 750 - A Birth Witnessed by Shepherds and Angels (Luke 2:6-14)

May 6, 2019

 

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. 

She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped Him snugly in strips of cloth and laid Him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them. 

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep.

Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 

but the angel reassured them. "Don't be afraid!" he said. "I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 

The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 

And you will recognize Him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger." 

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, 

"Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased." (Luke 2:6-14))

 

This section marks the climax of the birth narrative. This is the moment anticipated by the story. The story is building to its climax; the punchline. It is also the climax of the ages. The event long awaited for centuries. The coming of the Messiah. The event the Old Testament has been saying is coming. The one all of Israel and all of heaven is waiting for but it is witnessed by a bunch of shepherds and a host of angels. What is interesting is that this coming Messiah does not come to the courts of the king or to the Sanhedrin or any other human rulers. He comes to a lowly place where all can see him if they desire to. The shepherds are just there by chance. The angels have always known what is about to happen. They are the ones who announce it. Imagine the buzz around the hosts of angels. The moment has finally come. 

 

Much is made by critics and others of the fact that Luke doesn’t mention the magi. Granted perhaps Luke should have known about the magi if he had researched the story from lots of different sources. It is strange that Luke doesn’t include the magi in his witnesses to the birth of Messiah. But that fact that he doesn’t isn't proof that it is all a myth. Luke can tell the story differently from Matthew if he wishes to. The fact that their stories are different adds to the authenticity not detracts from it. Furthermore they each have a different slant to telling the story. They are not setting out to provide courtroom proof. They are telling the story of the coming Messiah.

 

I will not spend any time commenting on verses 6 and 7 in detail. In fact Michael did that sufficiently well in the previous Gem. Let's look rather at the shepherds watching their flocks in the fields at night. Luke uses the reduplication of the verb to keep or to guard twice. [φυλάσσοντες φυλακὰς]  meaning to watch vigilantly, to take turns keeping guard. There was clearly surveillance over the sheep the whole night long to guard against marauding animals (to kill) and humans (to steal).    Hence these shepherds are not likely to miss anything and the radiance was assumedly over where it was all happening. The shepherds are fearful about all this light shining around them until the angel explains. Now like Elizabeth and John, Mary and Joseph, the shepherds see angels. Already to date there have been four angelic visitations. Now here are some more. There is frenzy and excitement among the angels. 

 

The teachers of the law and the pharisees pride themselves they were not like the people of the land: the earthy manual workers. But isn't it interesting that in the corridors of heaven they are not included among those who will witness the Messiah's birth. Rather the angel brings great joy to the shepherds announcing great news for all people, including the lowly field workers. This good news if for every person on planet earth. Not just for Israel but Gentiles too. Not just for the learned and the upper class; those with wealth fame and social standing. This news is for both sexes and for the educated and the uneducated alike. Truly for EVERYONE. The Saviour is finally here, he is born to you in DAVID"S CITY. Meaning Bethlehem – the house of bread. But more significantly to the shepherds is it's David's city. David's city is placed in the emphatic place in the sentence and this is shepherds the angel is talking to. David was one of them. They had an affinity for David as the prominent shepherd of Israel. They are aware too that One is coming to shepherd Israel in the future. Like David but greater than he. That One has come. Saviour, Messiah and Lord. This is not any old Saviour, this is THE Saviour. In fact the word for Saviour is anartherous – without an article of any sort – definite or indefinite. "Saviour has come." 

 

The sign given to the shepherds is interesting: "a baby swaddled in strips of clothe and lying in a manger." The fact that the baby was swaddled or swathed in strips of clothe is nothing out of the ordinary. All babies were! The remarkable thing about this baby was the fact he was lying in a manger. A crib or trough used to feed animals. Now that was remarkable. That One so high should be born so low. It is a contradiction in terms. Exactly! God is saying something from the heavens about this baby's birth and beyond. 

 

That announcement is choreographed with a host of angels singing a song that is going to make it to the top of the charts for centuries. "Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace to His people on earth". Wow ponder that. Glory to God and peace to people on earth. The very thing most crave. And who is it who gains this peace? Those with whom God is pleased. Time for you to think about this before we move on. More tomorrow. 

 

 

A good father helps his daughter find her Prince without kissing all the frogs! Rick Godwin

 

Selfishness is weakness. But loving and caring for others is a position of power beyond anything we can possibly imagine. Joyce Meyer

 

Heaven enjoys a maternity-ward reaction... angels watch, the way grandparents monitor delivery-room doors... They can't wait to see the new arrival. While we're driving hearses... they're hanging streamers.  Max Lucado

 

 

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