“A NIGHT LIKE NO OTHER” Luke 2:8-20
INTRO – The Bible is full of stories of God coming to ordinary people to use them to accomplish extraordinary things for Him.
And the Christmas story is no different. It’s a story of nobodies & how God impacted & transformed their lives. The genealogy given in Matt. 1:1-16 is filled w/ ordinary, sinful, needy people.
Mary & Joseph were humble, common folks that God chose to use in a mighty way. She was a pregnant teenage girl betrothed to a blue-collar carpenter in a dusty Galilean town called Nazareth. Even the fact that Jesus was called, “Jesus of Nazareth” points to the lowliness of His upbringing. The character of the citizens of Nazareth was often called into question, & they were often despised & rejected. To come from Nazareth would be the same as being despised & considered to be of a lower class of people. This was part of the fulfillment of the prophecies concerning Jesus’ coming into the world as the Messiah. Isa. 53:2-3 – “There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.” (NLT)
But God, in His amazing love for us & in His astounding display of grace toward us, came to us in such a way that the person on the lowest rung of society’s ladder could find comfort in the coming of Immanuel. As the “Savior of the world,” every person in the world would be able to relate to this amazing man who was “the Word made flesh” (John 1:14); this one “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (ESV)
So, let’s look at this night like no other when the “anything but normal” angels visited these normal shepherds:
The divine interruption – v. 8-9 – When God interrupts your life (& He has the right to do so at any time), we need to pay close attention to the message that He is bringing to us at that moment. That message will always be followed by a moment of decision, which leads to the action of our obedient response.
These shepherds were just going about their daily lives, doing what they did best – the mundane job of taking care of sheep. Not flashy or spectacular. They were dirty, smelly, rough-cut guys. Many times they were dishonest, & were considered ceremonially & spiritually unclean There was nothing special about them, other than the fact that the God of all the universe chose to interrupt their common lives in an uncommon way w/ an unbelievable announcement – JESUS HAS COME!
It is an amazing, even comforting thought to us today that God came to these guys first. His interruption of their lives lets us know that He wants ALL people to know about Jesus. If He interrupted these nasty sheep-herding guys’ lives, He certainly will interrupt our lives. They were just living their lives, doing what they needed to do to survive, & God brought to them the greatest message of grace, love, & salvation that the world has ever heard.
God does the same thing to us. He interrupts our lives w/ His grace & love in different ways & for different reasons. As we are just living our lives, He interrupts them:
- To let us know about His plan for our lives – Moses
- To bring conviction of our sins – David & Nathan
- To realign the direction of our lives – Paul
- To invite us to join Him in His work – Peter & Andrew; James & John (Matt. 4:18-22)
The delightful message – v. 10-14 – This divine interruption was followed by a delightful message that the Lord delivered to them through the angel. Look at the components of this message:
- It was a message that brought courage – “Do not fear”
- It was a message that brought joy – “good news of great joy” – euangelizo – the Gospel brings joy!
- It was a message that brought hope “for ALL people”
- It was a message that brought promise – “For unto you is born a Savior…”
- It was a message that brought humility – “You will find the baby…”
- It was a message that brought supernatural worship
This message had both heavenly implications & earthly applications. The angels gave glory where glory was due for this message – the ONLY place where glory is EVER due – & that is to God.
- The Messiah is HIS Son
- The message is HIS message
- The means of accomplishing salvation are HIS means
- The motivation for sending His Son was HIS motivation – John 3:16
- The majesty of this night & EVERY Christmas celebration since that night was HIS majesty
So the heavenly implications of this message are obvious. IT’S ALL ABOUT GOD – Every aspect of this event points to Him. Every detail was designed by Him as a part of His sovereign plan. Every word spoken by the angels first originated in the mind of God before they said it. Every piece of this plan fits in perfect place b/c He’s THE perfect God & His perfect will was accomplished in sending Jesus. It’s no wonder the angels proclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest!” He alone is worthy of glory! That phrase “in the highest” – Think about it. It was “glory to God in the highest”…
- B/c it was the highest possible manner of praise
- …b/c it was among the angels of God, called upon to give Him glory & praise in this amazing moment for this amazing gift
- …b/c it was not confined to just praise on earth, but it reached into the highest realms of the universe
- …b/c it was given to the Most High God
Whichever is right – & I believe that they ALL are right to some degree – they all agree: This redeeming, loving, grace-filled, mercy-filled God is worthy of ALL praise & adoration!
But this message also had earthly applications. This Gospel would bring peace b/c the Prince of Peace has come. Every person in the world is at war w/ God. There is no peace w/ God or w/ our fellow man w/out Jesus. He came to make peace, & that’s what He did. Eph. 2:13-14 – “But now in Christ Jesus, you who were once far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace…”
Jesus is pleased to save us & give us His peace “not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). He is pleased to see us putting His love into practice & into action – “Little children, let us not love in word or talk, but in deed [action] & in truth” (1 John 3:18). He is pleased to empower us by His Holy Spirit to share the Gospel w/ those who are lost & w/out hope in our dark world – “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, & you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem & in all Judea & Samaria, & to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). He is pleased to see His Church – His Body – living together in unity, working & serving together in unity, loving each other unconditionally, restoring each other gently.
The decisive moment – v. 15 – “Let’s go!” When you have a divine interruption in your life & the Lord gives you a message that will change your life, you come to a decisive moment. Blackaby – “a crisis of belief.” Do I really trust God to be who He says He is, & do what He says He will do? If I do, then I have to step out in faith & obedience. And sometimes, it just doesn’t make sense at the moment.
- What about the sheep? Our livelihood, means of support
- What about ridicule from others who don’t believe?
- What if we can’t find Him?
- If God says, “You will find the baby,” then you can rest assured that you will find the baby.
- If God says that the baby is wrapped in swaddling clothes, then don’t be looking for any other kinds of clothes. He’s not going to be a Gap Kid!
- If God says that the baby will be lying in a manger, then don’t be looking for a baby bed or a porta-crib. You can rule them out.
What God says is true is true. What God says will happen, will happen. What God says is His will is His will. It’s our job to know Him, to seek Him, to obey Him, to trust Him, to follow Him. He will reveal Himself to us & show us His will. But we have to trust Him & obey Him, which means that when those decisive moments come, we need to be ready to move RIGHT THEN!
Howard Hendricks: “In the midst of a generation screaming for answers, Christians are stuttering.” Why are we stuttering? B/c we are not willing to step out in faith in the decisive moments of our lives, those moments when God has interrupted & spoken clearly to us. Instead of stepping boldly into new territory & into deeper water, we shrink back in fear & uncertainty. We are desperate for things to stay the same! We don’t want to change! We like where we are w/ God…we are comfortable w/ Him…we have a “Goldilocks” mentality in our spiritual lives – “not too hot, not too cold, but just right”…we seem to be managing pretty well right now at our present spiritual level…our sins aren’t too bad…don’t want to have to move too far from where we are in our spirituality right now (most of us don’t want to move from the pew we sit in every week, much less moving out of our comfort zone!). So we stay the same.
The tragedy of sameness! How horrible & tragic would it have been for even 1 of those shepherds to have said, “Hey guys. Yall go on to Bethlehem. I’m going to stay here & watch the sheep.” Makes good sense, doesn’t it? Seems like a good idea, doesn’t it? Sounds very practical & level-headed, doesn’t it? All that is true. But the problem is – THAT’S NOT WHAT GOD WANTED THEM TO DO! He didn’t want them to stay the same. He didn’t want them to stay in the same place b/c that’s not where Jesus was! That’s not where the miracle was! They HAD to make the decision RIGHT THEN to go or not to go. Experience what God had for them RIGHT THEN, or miss it. See Jesus or miss seeing Him. Have their lives forever changed, or stay the same for the rest of their lives. Live in awe of what they had seen, or live in regret for what they had missed. And then after seeing Jesus, they didn’t even talk the same. They had a different story to tell – v. 17-18. They ONLY had a story to tell AFTER they had come to the DECISIVE MOMENT & took the steps necessary to see Jesus! Then & ONLY THEN did they have a story to tell!
And, that is the DECISIVE MOMENT we have RIGHT NOW.