This past Sunday, being the last Sunday before Christmas, I preached on the the birth of Jesus, specifically the account of the angel announcing Jesus’ arrival to some shepherds near Bethlehem, and the shepherds going and finding everything as the angel had said they would.
As I was thinking about the passage, I asked myself: what does this narrative tell us about Jesus, and what does it tell us about ourselves? I came up with a list of things (which was probably bolstered by commentaries later, but I don’t remember now). It didn’t really fit in my sermon though, so I didn’t use it which is why each point isn’t fleshed out, but it’s worth pondering nonetheless.
Luke 2: 8-20
8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,
and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.
What does the angel’s proclamation say about Jesus?
1. He is good (since his arrival is good news)/his birth is a joyful occasion
2. His birth fulfills prophecy (Micah 5:2)
3. He is Saviour, Messiah (Anointed One), and Lord (master with absolute ownership rights)
4. He looked like a regular, average baby, that was differentiated only by where he was sleeping- in a manger
5. This is a great act of God (hence the angels praise him. Cf. Job 38:7 at creation, and here with new creation)
6. He is to be witnessed & witnessed about
What does it say about humans?
1. We are in need of saving/peace (eiréné = shalom)
2. We are worth Jesus going to such a great length (in the incarnation but also on the cross – Phil. 2!) to save us
3. All people matter (v. 10), including the “unclean” or disreputable or those on the social sidelines (like the shepherds who the angels appeared to)
4. We are called to witness Him & witness about Him
The more we witness Jesus in and around us, even in the mundane things (like He was a normal-looking baby), the more we will witness about Him – and it will be easier and even more natural to do so.