Thursday, December 22, 2005

the Christmas the shepherds knew ~ day 3

God, in His sovereign goodness and mercy to me, has been teaching me a wonderful lesson the past few weeks. Or maybe, I should say, He is reteaching and reminding me of His plan for my life, of His watchcare over me.

Last weekend I was so blessed to hear one of the shepherds in a Christmas concert, speak about "his" response to the pronouncement of Christ's birth, lowly shepherd that he was. He reminded us that the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was handed down to the poorest and lowliest of men rather than to the religious or political rulers of the day. What a refreshing and wonderful thought....if He revealed Himself as the Incarnate God come to earth to these people of lowly estate, He may certainly reveal himself to me as well. There is no need for a priest, a pastor, an elder, or any mediary to speak to me on God's behalf. My access to the throne of grace is real and sure and not encumbered by any earthly advocate. I may approach God only because the Lord Jesus Christ has purchased me as His won.

I think it must have really made the religious leaders of the day furious on pondering this truth years later. I know it still makes some religous leaders mad today when they cannot control how God works in the lives of His elect, when they cannot micromanage God.

I also received this wonderful piece in an e-mail newsletter from Jeff Myers and wanted to share it here. May you be as blessed as I was.

by John Carpenter

Most of us don't know a whole lot about shepherds. When you thumb through the classifieds in the paper, you'll not find many ads for them. Personally, I always think of children wearing their dad's bathrobes in a Christmas play.

Shepherds weren't admired in biblical times. They were called loathsome in Genesis. In fact, being a shepherd was sometimes considered a punishment.

The shepherds were despised by the orthodox "good" people of the day. Shepherds were quite unable to keep the details of the cremonial law; they could not observe all the meticulous hand washings and rules and regulations.

Because they worked in an unclean profession, the rules of the temple worship would have prohibited them from entering into its courts. Now think about this for a minute. They were tending to lambs that the priests would use in sacrifice for the sins of those who were worthy to enter the temple gates, but not for them because they were unworthy.

Shepherds were the lowest of the low vocationally. Most Jews would have nothing to do with them. Isn't it interesting then that God chose these lowest of the low to be His heralds to announce the birth of His son on earth? Notice that in Luke 2:17, Luke writes, "Then the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child."

In essence, these uneducated, unclean, unsacrificed-for men were chosen by God to be the first preachers of the Gospel, the first missionaries bringing the good news.

And how did they respond?

Did they question the logic of a King being born in a poor hamlet like Bethlehem or research the historical prophesies, or debate whether they were even allowed to enter a filthy, dirty stable, as the Pharisees would have undoubtedly done?

No. Once they had picked themselves up off the ground where the sudden appearance of all the armies of Heaven must have knocked them, they knew immediately what to do. They believed. "Come on, let's go to Bethlehem!" they exclaimed, and they ran to Bethlehem. It might have been a mile; it might have been five miles; we don't know. But they ran.

We don't know what transpired after the shepherds found Jesus, but we do know their excitement was undiminished because then they ran to tell everyone what had happened. They didn't care that the townspeople might turn up their noses at them; they had to spread the good news. They believed. They ran. They told.

The shepherds were overlooked and looked down upon by their culture, but not by their God. He chose them for a most special job.

Christ chose to identify himself with them. "I am the Good Shepherd; My sheep hear my voice," he says, and thus transforms this most ignoble of professions into the most noble. Perhaps some of those rough, dirty shepherds who first announced his coming were in the crowd thirty-some years later when the Son of God chose to identify himself with their profesion. What a blessing for them! Their memory would have taken them back to what the angel first said to them.

Listen to the words of the angel one more time: "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which shall be for all the people;" For all the people. Even shepherds. Even you and me.


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