Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Lesson from the Shepherds

I was asked to write a devotional for this Christmas season - audience is middle school and high school. This is what came out from time of reflection.

The Very Words of God
Luke 2:8-20
(As you read these verses, look back at the prior verses to know where this takes place). 

Thoughts
Shepherds. Not too many people saying they want to grow up and be a shepherd these days. I doubt many of you are looking into sheepherding as your college major. While an important cultural role, where you were herding the lambs to be sacrificed at the temple, they were a group of people not widely received. Sheep stink, y’all. If you were a career shepherd, dinner invitations were most likely few and far between. Yet this night, an invitation was given. 

These men were pulling the usual all-nighter, hanging out with their sheep herds. Most likely, taking turns being “on call”. Fighting to keep their eyes open and stay alert against any predators. Did the screams or gasps of the ones awake, rouse those dozing? An intruder had indeed come on the scene, but without threat. Instead, with an announcement. The one they have heard prophesied of and perhaps wondered if they would see, Messiah had arrived. 

Jesus had been born. The long-expected one. The fulfillment and hope of Israel had shown up! I wonder if they sighed with relief - perhaps the Roman oppression will end and the Jews would reign with Messiah on the throne.  

Here is what I love about the shepherds. They hear this incredible news! Almost surreal in the way it is delivered. Surely they had heard of angels visits from the past - Abraham entertaining strangers, Daniel and his night with lions, etc. Yet, now they are recipients of such creatures. But more than hearing and seeing, they take action and obey what the angels say. Risking potential financial ruin, they leave the field. Walk into Bethlehem and begin the hunt. How many places did they search before finding the correct stony manger? Were there others in town for the census also staying in similar digs due to the maximum capacity in Bethlehem? Now awakened by excited shepherds who were carrying on about angels, a manger, and the Messiah? Verse 15 challenges me - they heard. They went. They witnessed. 

No wonder they left in such delight and exuberance! How many others were awakened after the visit by shepherds who could not contain their wonder? Did others wonder if the message was true? Did any take action to go and find Jesus also? 

What about you? 
Has the wonder of Jesus’ birth become so routine? In what ways have you born witness to the workings of God? Are you sharing the testimonies of wonder with others? The hope of the Gospel is not meant for you alone. But for a dying world, desperate to hear of hope. Of life. Of love. Of Jesus. 

One more thing…
We see no indication of the shepherds insecurities. There isn’t a record of a conversation including information such as: “We should go wash up first. I’m too dirty to go and meet the Messiah. What will people think about us traipsing in during the dark night hours? What is we wake him up? What if the parents are mad and don’t want visitors?” Instead, there is instant obedience. They were compelled by the desire to meet this Promised One. Insecurities were overshadowed by Immanuel - God with us. 

How often do you and I think we need to “fix” ourselves first before coming to Jesus? If I were just a little better or cleaned up nicer or did more good things, then I’ll go and talk to Jesus more. 

I’m not the gift. He is. Why not just go and worship? Why not delight in His presence, soak in His Word and be unable to contain the wonder? Why not live in such a way that our lives RADIATE the glory of being in the presence of the Savior, the Messiah? 

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