TEXT:         Luke 2:1-20


INTRO:       Most people just love the Christmas story, their houses are decorated with beautiful pastoral pictures of manger scenes and happy looking Shepherds looking peacefully over the baby Jesus with a smiling Mary and Joseph standing nearby and the warmth of a few innocent looking lambs nearby.


WHAT! ... this is hardly the real picture of that first Christmas!  Here is the real conditions of the day:


a.   Big government was making huge new taxes ... this was the reason for Joseph and Mary having to travel to Bethlehem in the first place, to register for the new round of taxes coming!

b.   Divorce rates were high, abortion was a serious problem and common, this created pressure for Joseph to have Mary get an abortion since they weren't married!

c.   The middle class was losing buying power, debt was a serious problem for the average home owner!

d.   Crime rates were high, jails were full.

e.   Tensions in the Middle East kept the whole world on edge!

f.    Most people had lost hope and faith in God, to most religion was nothing more than a waste of time, worship services were mechanical and without much meaning.

g.   No one had confidence in their political leaders.


        Some things never change!!!  It is in this climate that God decides the time is right to make a major announcement - "To you this day is born a Savior"


PROP. SENT:     If we fail to see God's plan to save us in the baby Jesus we will fail to understand what Christmas is all about!




A.   Grand Mess!   Luke 2:1-7

1.  Everything that could go wrong went wrong ...  

a.   Mary wasn't married but pregnant!

b.   Though 9 months pregnant they would have to travel, and this was dangerous by mule this far into the pregnancy!

c.   Though already extremely poor, they would have to register for new taxes!

d.   There was no room at any Inn for them!

e.   No one believed the story of Mary being a virgin since she is pregnant 9 months!

2.  This was not a serene picture of a happy couple in the warm glow of a manger scene like we portray it in all our Christmas pageants!


B.   Great Mistake??  2:8

1.  God turned to Shepherds to be the first to know!

a.   Shepherds were a very despised class of workers in Israel at this time!

b.   They were considered so unreliable that they were not allowed to testify in a court of law even if they were eye witnesses to a crime!

c.   That God would choose these Shepherds to "testify" for Him when the nation of Israel wouldn't let them testify about anything is an ironic twist here!

d.   Why would God pick such poor unreliable men to announce such a great event?

2.  Shepherds were not thought of fondly as we think of them today, they were hardly the right choice for such an important mission by human standards of that day!

3.  God is going to change the world by using an unmarried pregnant woman that claims to still be a Virgin, and now by using men so despised that they cannot even testify in a court of law even if an eyewitness to a crime!




A.   God's Message!   2:9-16

1.  An angel appears and the Shepherds are scared to death!   2:9

a.   Why?  Wouldn't it be wonderful to be "touched by an Angel?"

b.   In those days it was thought that if an angel ever appeared it was ALWAYS bad news!

c.   They reacted to seeing an angel by what they had always believed, that this was only bad news coming!

2.  God corrects their understanding first thing, God would still like to do this with the world today, the world is terrified at the idea of a God, but this is good news not bad!

3.  The "heavenly host" that pops in here too was not what we normally think it to be, it was NOT a choir, the term "heavenly host" literally translates "Angel Army!"

a.   An army announcing "peace on earth" ... this is an interesting twist too!

b.   These were not choir angels, they were warriors!

4.  The news was GOOD NEWS however, God had taken the extreme effort to save man rather than let us destroy ourselves over time, so His own son is sent to be the sacrificial lamb!

a.   This is kind of ironic too, these Shepherds watched the flocks between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, about a two mile area (Bethlehem was only about 5-6  miles from Jerusalem).

b.   All the flocks of lambs in this area were sheep for slaughter at the Temple in Jerusalem for the sins of the people!!

c.   It is interesting that God chose Shepherds who watched over the flocks destined for slaughter to come and see the "GREAT LAMB OF GOD WHICH TAKES AWAY THE SINS OF THE WORLD."

d.   Soon the roles would be reversed, the shepherds would come and not only find the lamb of God but also the GREAT SHEPHERD!


B.   Grand Mission!   2:17-23

1.  The Shepherds whom man would not allow to testify to anything are now commissioned by God to testify about God's great news!

a.   It was the Shepherds who were asked to be the first to PREACH the GOOD NEWS (The word "Gospel" means, "Good News")

b.   We still call Pastors who preach the Gospel "shepherds" today!

c.   Those who were least trusted by man are most trusted by God!

2.  Think of the privilege these men got to experience, though lowest of the low they are now given the greatest privilege of all!

3.  The wealthy Magi don't come for almost 2 years, it was the poor and rejected that got in first on God's great news, fulfilling the promises of the Old Testament that the "poor" would be first!

4.  It is no wonder that as these Shepherds went about proclaiming this great news that it states, "AND ALL WHO HEARD IT WERE AMAZED AT WHAT THE SHEPHERDS SAID TO THEM" ... amazed is right!  They were amazed that God would choose Shepherds for this job when everyone else would have rejected them!

5.  God is still looking for those who are not afraid to speak the good news of His coming, for those who are not afraid to tell what Christmas is really all about, not just the gifts, the lights, the peaceful scenes, but the message of salvation!

6.  To miss the message of Christmas is to miss the meaning of Christmas!

7.  Jesus is the reason for the season, do you know Him as Savior?

8.  He came for you, have you given Him the only gift that God doesn't own unless it is given to Him, your heart?


CONCLUSION:     Both the Magi and the Shepherds came and bowed down and worshipped Jesus, are you as wise as the wise men, have you come to worship Christ the Lord?   Are you as simple as the Shepherds who came and believed?  Christ has come to save the lost, why not get in on the best thing that ever happened to a dark world, let the Son shine in!