Thursday, December 14, 2017

12.14.17 // Expecting the Messiah: For Shepherds and Kings

Shepherds - Luke 2:8-16
“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.”

Wise Men - Matthew 2:1-11
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.”

If we look at the Christmas story alone, we can see the kinds of people that the Lord revealed the Messiah to:
-    His humble parents, Mary and Joseph
-    Elizabeth, the mother of John the man who was to prepare the way for Christ
-    Simeon, an old priest to whom the Lord promised that he would not die until he laid eyes on the Messiah
-    Anna, a prophetess who prayed in the temple every day and night for sixty years
-    The shepherds, the lowliest citizens with the dirtiest job
-    The wise men, the most prestigious citizens

When we look beyond the birth of Christ and onward to His earthly ministry, we can see even more people He ministered to and spent time with:
-    Fishermen
-    Tax collectors
-    Lepers
-    Demon-possessed men
-    “Sinners”
-    Mary Magdalene, an adulterous woman
-    The Samaritan woman (Remember, she had 5 husbands, and the man she was currently living with wasn’t her husband! This interaction was remarkable because Jews didn’t associate with Samaritans, AND men didn’t interact with women, especially a woman of this reputation.)
-    Nicodemus, a Pharisee

And after Jesus’ ascension into Heaven, Paul’s and Peter’s ministries reveal to us that salvation was for the Jews, God’s chosen people, AND the Gentiles…us!

All that to say, JESUS CAME FOR ALL PEOPLE! No one is excluded. You can’t be too poor, to rich, to sinful, too lowly, too powerful…Christ came to save all people. He desires all men to seek repentance. He wants all people to know Him. While He was on earth, He pursued all kinds of people, and He is still pursing all kinds of people from all walks of life!

In the first Christmas story, we see that God spoke to people right where they were. The shepherds were in their fields doing their jobs watching sheep. They were lowly citizens with a dirty job. They lived outside with their sheep. So, while they were watching their sheep that night, God sent angels to deliver the message! The angels told them exactly what to look for, and when they had left, the shepherds decided to go find the baby! God spoke to the wise men in a different way. The wise men probably studied the heavens and stars as their profession. What greater way to communicate the coming King to them than through the stars! They knew of the prophecy, and they saw the star, so they knew which direction to travel in to find the baby. God met the shepherds where they were, and He met the wise men where they were AND He met them to tell them the news of their Savior’s birth!

Let’s take a look at how these people responded once they encountered Christ:
-    Shepherds: Luke 2:17-20 “And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.”
-    Wise Men: Matthew 2:10-11 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.”
-    Simeon: Luke 2:27-32 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”
-    Anna: Luke 2: 38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.”

JOY. Pure joy. Worship. Thankfulness. Awe. Wonder. Faith. Evangelism. Peace. Trust. Praise. Sacrifice. Giving. This was their response upon seeing their Savior face to face. This was their response upon being chosen as the first witnesses to the Messiah. This was their response as they saw prophecies and promises fulfilled.

Praise the Lord; we are just like them! We are just as lowly as the shepherds. We are sinful. We are dirty. We are wanderers. And yet, the Lord has chosen to reveal Himself to us in the most mind-blowing way. He sent His only precious Son into the world as a sacrifice so that we can know Him intimately forever! This Christmas season, I hope you can view the Christmas story from the perspectives of shepherds, prophets, prophetesses, and wise men. I hope you will fall on your knees in worship that the King of Kings chose to reveal Himself to YOU! What are you doing with that revelation?? Is your response the same as the responses listed above? How can you worship Christ afresh this Christmas season!! Christmas is fast approaching. Are you ready to encounter the baby in the manger who changed your future forever!?

Praise the Lord!

Merry Christmas!

Always, Jacquelyn

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