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The Mystery Of The Shepherds

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
December 29, 2021 1:00 am

The Mystery Of The Shepherds

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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December 29, 2021 1:00 am

When you’re uncertain about what to do next, where do you go for guidance? When Jesus was born, the heavenly host of angels appeared to the humblest people they could find—shepherds in the hills of Bethlehem. God’s ways are mysterious, even counterintuitive. By exploring the region, culture, and occupation of shepherds, you’ll discover how God mightily uses the most unexpected people. These shepherds met the Good Shepherd, who saves, cares for, and guides us like none other.  Click here to listen (Duration 25:02)

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When Jesus was born a heavenly host of angels did not appear to the ruling elite. They passed by local middle-class merchants. Instead, they appeared on the list of people they could find shepherds in the hills of Bethlehem shepherds attending sacrificial sheep, the temple from the Moody Church in Chicago this morning to win with Dr. Erwin listserv is clear.

Teaching helps us make it across the finish line dilutes her today you wrap up your series on the mystery of Bethlehem. What do you find noteworthy about shepherds with Dave. I think that you've already answered the question because the way in which you describe the fact that Jesus bypassed all those who were the big shot so to speak in the world and he comes to lowly shepherds shepherds were often times despised.

They were on the lower end of the totem pole, so to speak. And Jesus goes to them. I love it. You know, we hear it running to win are totally committed to getting the gospel of Jesus Christ to as many people as possible, and perhaps you've heard me say that we are in 20 different countries in three different languages. Thousands upon thousands listen to this ministry. Many are blessed.

Many come to saving faith in Christ when you consider helping us. As you might guess, this is a listener supported ministry and as we come to the end of the year. We want to thank the many of you who throughout the year have generously supported us, but there may be many of you who have never connected with us. Here's what you can do.

Go to RTW offer.com that's RTW offer.com and by the way, I hope that you have a pencil handy or you can call us even right now at 1-888-218-9337 I'm going to be giving you that contact info again. RTW offer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337 now, let us contemplate the fact that the Angels come to the shepherds and they were the first to hear the good news. The story of the Angels being with the shepherds and revealing to them that Jesus is born in Bethlehem is known to all the different religions of the world. Everyone knows the story and the reason that it is so important is because of who was born in Bethlehem and the transformation that he can make in our individual lives want you to look very briefly at Luke chapter 2 chapter 2. It's a story that we know by memory because we have read the Christmas story so often. But these shepherds. God bless them. There are several things that we know about the shepherd.

First of all we know where they were. We know where they were.

You'll notice it says in verse eight and in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. Now the same region is the region of course, of Bethlehem, but Bethlehem is close to Jerusalem today when you go from one to another, you hardly know when you're leaving Jerusalem and entering Bethlehem, but in those days they were about five or 6 miles apart.

Today the cities have expanded, but in the temple area sheep were offered every single day sheep were to be offered both morning and evening and unblemished lamb was to be offered and it is said that the lands that they used were those that were taken care of in the Bethlehem area so it could be that these shepherds were actually hurting temple.

She, that would be used for sacrifice and Jesus. Of course, the Lamb of God takes away the sin of the world.

He is the one who will become the ultimate sacrifice for our sin, so we know where they were.

We also know what their occupation was. We know what they did. They were shepherds and shepherds in those days were despised for a number of different reasons. First of all because it was a dirty job, you know, some of those shepherds when they left home, they'd be gone for two or three weeks at a time and during that period of time. They wouldn't take a bath. They were of course taking care of sheep.

You've heard me tell you the story before, about a man who said to a better one.

How can you live with a goat in your tent, and he said it's no big deal. He says eventually the goats just get used to it so you can understand what kind of a life. They were despised because it was a dirty job, but there was another reason and that is that the Orthodox Jews had made so many different regulations so many different rules about cleanliness and washing that no shepherd could really live up to the so often times they were looked down upon, but it was in the midst of this that we have the angel coming an angel of the Lord. The Bible says appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear and the angel said fear not for behold I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people brought to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And so they have this revelation of Jesus. So here we have disciples or I should say we have shepherds we know where they were.

We know what they did and we know where they went. They went to the little town of Bethlehem as the angel told them to do now why Bethlehem why this little town. I think that one of the reasons is because Bethlehem, in the original Hebrew means house of bread. They left him house of bread. In fact, that's why when you read the book of Ruth. There's some irony there. It says that there was a famine in the house of bread.

There may be another reason and that is that Bethlehem was indeed the city of David.

That's the town in which David now where not for the fact that the prophet Micah predicted where Jesus would be born in Bethlehem, there'd be no way for us to try to second-guess God to know where Jesus would be born. I discovered in my life as I'm sure you've discovered in yours that God is very on he could have used Jerusalem. Jesus could have been born very confused.

Rome used a little town, not the smallest of all towns, but one of the smallest of all, because God's ways are unfathomable. You and I don't understand it. I remember a seminary professor used to say that long ago. He gave up on the idea of trying to predict whom God would mightily use here you have a student to get straight A's. He is one of the most gifted and qualified in long, behold, he doesn't end up anywhere and then you have somebody else's struggles and you think to yourself, he's not going to make it in yet God mightily uses him God is that kind of a God, he breaks into our lives, and he does the unpredictable even in your life today to see what you didn't know is you are here because you're worshiping the Lord and moody church but maybe you're here because a friend brought you.

Maybe you are here to see the children for any number of reasons, you may be here today. But God may have you here for an entirely different reason. And that is to show you his glory and that you might connect with Jesus Christ his son so we know where they went. We also know what they saw. What is it that they saw the Bible says that they came to Bethlehem and they saw Mary and Joseph and the child. The text doesn't say it, but I've no doubt that these shepherds were devout people I've no doubt that they worship the Lord Jesus Christ and those Christmas cards that you get with the shepherds bowing to the one who is there in the stable in the manger. The little baby. Those are authentic in terms of their historical significance because that's where the shepherds came to and there is no doubt that they bowed before the baby and they were willing to give praise to God because the angel had said that his Savior would be born to them and so they saw this, they saw the one who would eventually die on the cross and then rise again and of course as I told you many times every Christmas, sometimes almost every Christmas Sunday when they looked at the baby Jesus. There was much more to Jesus that they could not see his divine nature was invisible to them, but in that they be localized was God the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The Bible says well what is it that they experienced.

They experience the joy of knowing that they had seen the Savior, and what courage it gave them you'll notice it says in verse 16 and they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the baby lying in a manger and when they sought they made known the saying that it been told them concerning this child and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told you can imagine the excitement they suddenly now become evangelists and their telling everybody about the Angels there telling everybody about the baby that was wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in the manger and they are spreading the word. Can anyone remain quiet after you've seen Jesus the Savior. I don't think so. And that's why the shepherds kept telling everyone who would listen that they had seen this baby in accordance with what the Angels had mentioned to them know as I look at this text and as I pondered this week I'm asking what is really the bottom line what's going on here why the shepherd, why would they be the ones that would be chosen by God for the special experience and it occurred to me that this is really an example of the shepherds coming to the chief Shepherd may be one of the reasons that God chose the shepherds to be the ones to whom the angels would come is because he knew that his son would grow up and become a shepherd know the imagery in the Bible is that we are sheep and he is the good Shepherd that we are sheep because the Bible says we've turned everybody to his own way. Sheep are notorious for getting on the wrong path and going the wrong direction and being stubborn about it and that's the way we are. We are sheep going to hell as it were, in our own way because of our own reasons and because of our own sin that we like to much to try to ask forgiveness for and so we here as people scattered doing our own thing. Sheep sometimes choose false paths because they look at some Windows swept area of the desert and they think that it's a path or they try to make it into one, even though it leads nowhere which is really a story of us as human being. Today I'm speaking to some of you, and you know that your life is really going in the wrong direction but still you like it too much to deal with it and to deal with the Savior who came to save us from our sin. Now what about the good Shepherd, Jesus said of himself as he grew up and became a man and began to teach. He said I am the good shepherd.

The good Shepherd number one. He knows his sheep he knows them.

These shepherds I'm sure they knew their shape. I'm told that shepherds have a name for every sheep and the sheep recognizes his or her name and the shepherd knows them and that they know his voice. They record highs. You see the relationship that Jesus Christ is the good Shepherd wants to have with us is a personal relationship.

The Bible says that he knows us all by name. He knows that she by name shepherds knew their shape.

But Jesus knows millions of his sheep millions who have believed on him he knows them by name exactly doesn't. One time Rebecca and I were driving with an old couple and they were pointing out to us where they had bought some cemetery plots and they said you know will God know where we are buried.

Will he remember her name. Well, the answer is yes, the good Shepherd never loses his sheep and he knows them by name and they know him so I'd ask you today. Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Is he someone simply to be worshiped and admired and talked about at Christmas, but that's it. No these to be our personal savior.

Also, the relationship of the shepherd is such that the shepherd leads them Jesus as he leads his sheep and shepherds have the responsibility of taking sheep sometimes were they don't want to go because the shepherds know where the grass is and sheep again are notoriously difficult to lead and sometimes what a shepherd will do when he can't get sheep to go where he wants them to go. He'll actually reach into the flock and it'll take a little lamb and put it on his shoulder and he'll carry it and then he'll begin to go and he'll begin to go up the ridges where he wants the sheep to graze during the summertime and that eventually when that little lamb begins to call out for its mother. The mother begins to go the you and then others begin to go on pretty soon you've got the whole flock of sheep going in the right direction and is not exactly what Jesus, the good Shepherd does. Sometimes when he wants us to think about eternity in heaven he will reach down and he will take a lamb. Some of you know what that is like today don't you. I'm thinking of those of you who lost children this past year the shepherd looked down and he took them to himself and took them all the way to heaven. And now, because they are there. We begin to look in the right direction. We begin to think heavenly thoughts because we know that this world is not our home were simply passing through and the good Shepherd takes his sheep home with him and that's what he does and at the end of life's journey. We will go home to be with Christ because the good Shepherd loves his sheep's relationship with them is personal.

His relationship with them is practical.

He leads them during this past year, we can look back. Despite the heartaches despite the difficulties in the disappointments we as God's people have been led by the good Shepherd and for that we are deeply grateful.

But Jesus said something else.

He said when he spoke about being a shepherd. He said if you hire somebody to look after the sheep when the wolf comes that hired hand will run he'll let the wolves devour the sheep but Jesus said that in that regard. He's not a hired hand.

He says that he protects his flock and he guides us all the way to heaven, but also he says the good Shepherd gives his life for the sheep. And that's the bottom line when we think of the Christmas story. The Christmas story we always have to be able to transport people from the story of the manger all the way to recognize that Jesus came ultimately to die, we could say this that that little baby that was in a manger was actually born crucified.

He came to save his people and he came to die to do it and the reason is that this sense of alienation. This sense of separation from God because of our sin that we've all experienced is a situation that you and I cannot repair we can make it any better. We can manage it. There's nothing that we can do about it. All that we can do is to try to do the very best that we can going from pillar to post being caught in the wheels and the spiderweb of our own bad decisions and sins but Jesus came to die for us to give his life on our behalf that we might be saved because you see we owed God what we could not pay justice demanded a kind of perfection that we do not have an Jesus said, I'll pay it all. Do it for you and that's the Christmas story during the days in Russia there was a desire by the name of Nicholas the first, it is said that he appointed a friend of his to be a paymaster in those days. A paymaster had the responsibility of the of giving the payment to the soldiers and making sure that the money was divvied out correctly so he dealt with an awful lot of money this paymaster. Unfortunately is not up to the task in terms of his character and he actually took some of the money and he gambled it away. Now when it came time for him to pay the troops as he was supposed to be realized that he was out enough a lot of money and there was no way that he could possibly possibly pay what he owed so the story is that he actually sat down and made a list of all of the debts that he had incurred because of the sin of gambling. He listed it and then wrote on a piece of paper too much to pay. Who can pay his intention was to commit suicide but as he was there with his gun thinking that he would commit suicide at midnight, he fell asleep eventually that night and that he woke up in the morning and he saw the piece of paper that he had written out and it had a signature on it and it said Nicholas. Now he didn't believe that it was his friend bizarre, but it was actually check the signature against one that he had on file who can pay the answer is Nicholas and Nicholas did pay because he sent a messenger the next day to make up for the man's transgressions, and to pay the soldiers now folks you and I are in that predicament who can pay, who can be the one who can take arsons away who is the one who is able to guide us when life gets difficult. Who cares sometimes when were out of work and we don't know where to turn. Who can meet all of these obligations, Jesus came the good Shepherd gave his life that we might be saved. And so the shepherds returned from their experience. Having seen the good Shepherd and they told everyone they told everyone what they had seen today as we think about Christmas people are in a mood to be able to accept exchanges of gifts, kind words, let it be said of us that we like the shepherds tell everyone that we meet about the Jesus who came to save us, the Lamb of God, the shepherd died for his sheep want to conclude today talking to you very directly because there is some of you here. It can be said of you that you played by all the rules you've done all the right things you consider yourself even to be good and to be religious but what you can to explain is the emptiness that there is within your heart and in your soul today would you come to the good Shepherd the good Shepherd about whom we read as many as received him, to those he gives the authority to become the children of God, even to those who believe on his name. Let this Christmas be the Christmas the changes you or that God changes you. Your allowing him to do it.

Let's let that happen in our lives today my dear friend, this is Pastor Luther. Thank you. Glad that even though the Christmas celebrations are over. The message of Christmas continues throughout all of the next year and beyond.

We have a message of redemption of forgiveness of reconciliation and of grace I'm holding in my hands a very interesting letter that says as a truck driver.

I listen for hours and hours through the app on my phone that your ministry provides. I drink and drink of the never ending fountain of his word through the Holy Spirit. I pray that God will continue to bless you Dr. Luther and your ministry there running to win. It is with joy that I help though in a small way to support the ministry with my gifts and my prayers.

Have you ever considered becoming a part of the running to win family joining people like this truck driver making a special gift to this ministry, you know, as we end this year. I need to remind you that running to win is, of course, listener supported. I hope that you have a pencil handy because I'm going to give you some contact information that I want you to have here is what you can do. Go to RTW offer.com that's RTW offer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337 and because it is so important as we come to the end of the year, I'm going to be giving you that contact information again and I want to thank you in advance for helping us getting the gospel of Jesus Christ to thousands upon thousands go to RTW offer.com or call us right now can call right now at 1-888-218-9337 that's 1-888-218-9337 you can write to us run into when 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard Chicago, IL 60614 running to win is all about helping you find God's roadmap for your race of life. We don't know what's coming down the road. That's why it makes a lot of sense to allow God to order our steps in the uncertain weeks and months to come next time don't miss a timely message on just what godly this is Callister running to win is sponsored by the Moody Church


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