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May 25, 2021 12:00 am
Need to follow the example of the shepherds keep singing about the glory of God. We need to follow their example. There telling everybody thinking so you say that I'm not trained in Angela's medical school to tell somebody found a good doctor, you don't need to go to culinary school and tell somebody that a good restaurant. You don't need to be formally trained in theology details you found the Savior.
If this group of unlettered illiterate portion at least expecting to come to very probably even to kings and queens what you know the story is the account of Jesus birth unfolds. Luke's Gospel reveals some surprising man who were given the divine task to be the bearers of the first gospel.
The first good news. It was a group of shepherds. How were a bunch of lowly shepherds chosen to herald the coming of the Messiah today on wisdom for the hard Stephen Devi explores the announcement of Jesus birth in a message he's calling incarnation. Well, it didn't take very long for the news to literally reach around the world that a baby boy was born a very special baby. He was heralded as the one he would bring peace that one document outside of Scripture that survived for more than 2000 years announced that he was the savior of mankind, I quote his birth marks the beginning of all good tidings for the world. The problem is they were talking about the birthday of Jesus were celebrating the birth date and reign of Caesar Gaius Octavius later named Caesar Augustus, which means supreme or divine ruler Augustus had ascended the seat of power after his adoptive father, Julius Caesar was assassinated, Augustus took over a rather disorganized Association of regions fractured by division tribes and over the next 45 years. He forged them into the Roman Empire that we think of today. He built magnificent buildings, temples, paved roads built aqueducts instituted the Pax Romana, the peace of Rome was indeed the deliverer of peace, so it seemed he administrated financial, legal, religious reforms several years before the birth of Christ. Haley's Comet blazed across the night sky, the middle-age Caesar Augustus proclaimed that it was the spirit of his adoptive father Julius Caesar being ascended to his glory in heaven and the superstitious Roman Empire believed men and Augustus jumped on the opportunity and had coins minted on one side the likeness of Julius Caesar and on the other side his own likeness along with the word Caesar son of God and the gospel account see the highlight this distinction as Luke in particular begins the narrative of the birth of Christ and the birth of Christ is to take place 1500 miles away from the seed of Rome's power on the other side of the Mediterranean and is is it Lucas highlighting here at the outset, you knows that anything what's really happening in the world and if you really want to talk about headlines. Don't look at MD miles away. This little obscure village that was happening there. So we invite you to open your Bible is go back as we are studying for Luke's gospel and rejoin our study were in chapter 2 and verse one and will go through a fairly quickly. Verse one. In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. That is, for the purpose of taxation.
This was the first registration when Carolinians was governor of Syria not to stop. This is almost as if to imply, as far Luke's concern. This would be the perspective of the world that these guys are the ones in charge. These are the ones who control the lives of the citizens in their Empire. You've got that national leader in Rome, and you got the regional leader of the governor here in Syria we these guys are the movers and shakers of power.
They're the ones calling the shots in everybody's life. I find it interesting that with all of the edicts and and decrees that Caesar Augustus sent out.
This was the verses will be the last of all the mandates the analysis of all the speeches he delivered all the buildings they he dedicated all the reforms he initiated, not if it none of it is mentioned except this one decree. Why is it to say Luke is telling us who really happens to be in charge. A decree went out from Caesar Augustus yeah but what's got really doing here with got really doing with your old enough in the fading yard.
Now you got a young couple expecting a baby and are living in a wrong city living in Nazareth and they're not where they're gonna need to be in order to fulfill the prophecy of Micah delivered 800 years earlier that the birth of the ruler of Israel, the Messiah will take place 90 miles away in Bethlehem Saturday get this couple from Nazareth to Bethlehem 90 miles away at the worst possible moment of their lives. Well, God ordains the means he controls the hearts of kings. They seem to be in control, but they are only indirectly. God is controlling history history as you probably heard is his story, nor given here sort of an inside peek at how God is working behind the scenes. I think this is great God moves the heart of of this Caesar to make all the sudden hungry for a little more tax revenue and he wakes up with the bright idea. I think I'll tax the whole world, and 600 senators evidently agreed and probably wholeheartedly because that's what rulers and Senators do they tax people for Joseph and Mary.
This is the worst of times. They will among the Jewish nation hated the oppression of Ron. This would've been the talk of the town Caesar Don he's messing up our lives leave everything and take this trip for the purpose of taxation, where is God in all of this would've been asking maybe you felt like that in these days we maybe you feel like your life's been upset and changed and maybe fill your life been bounced around like a pinball all of its outside your control, you adapted from one decree to the next, from one mandate to the other from one confusing report to the next and maybe you've wondered where is God in all of this we may not have all the answers but we do know that God is at work in this opening line reminds us that the psalmist says in Psalm 121 verse four, our God never slumbers or sleeps. You know that means that means that you can you can sleep not now at night, whenever you get the chance, but I don't get too distraught or distracted or caught up in the decrees and Band-Aids and decisions of emperors and senators and governors. God is ultimately doing something we usually don't catch on until later, but if the people in Joseph and Mary's world are looking to Rome that which they were and grumbling about room which they were now and upset with rope, which they word after looking in the wrong direction. What's really happening is got setting this up for something.
This can happen 1500 miles away or misdirected Caesar Augustus here no doubt thinks he's in charge.
No, no, God is in charge of Caesar Augustus, yes, this trip came at the worst time make their lives uncomfortable trip was difficult, even dangerous, but get your perspective right is easy for us to say that about that, what about them. Joseph and Mary are not pawns in the hands Caesar Augustus Caesar Augustus is the pawn in the hand of God.
God's purposes are being fulfilled through this Imperial decree verse three tells us that all the empires scattering back to their hometown origins. They got all day. This Imperial decree and we know from history that wives would not have been required to accompany their husbands. Certainly not a betrothed or an engaged expecting woman the original construction of verses four and five indicated Joseph is registering and Mary is with him not to register.
She is simply accompanying him as he registers little tricky in English language and you and you frankly you gotta wonder why she along when I told why. Although my guess would be that she welcomed the opportunity to get out of town.
The shame she has experienced by her pregnancy would've been extremely painful, nobody's believing or storing even Joseph needed an angel to confirm that she was still a virgin. He didn't believe it.
You wouldn't believe it, nor what I were not even told why she's there or how difficult their journey was how long they took from Nazareth to Bethlehem. When I told her they traveled alone or with others, were not even sure to this day of Jesus was born into hollowed out cave for in an open courtyard were animals were tied down for the night or in an animal enclosure connected to somebody's house that we don't even know the dates by the second century that forgot the team celebrated for several hundred years. We are told in verse seven that Mary wrapped Jesus in swaddling claws by herself, which implies a midwife was not there or were involved. That would've been the customary role of the midwife. More than likely at this point there alone, but there's a lot we don't know to look is not writing to satisfy our curiosity. He's keeping the account simple. He's keeping it uncluttered is giving us enough details to allow us to see the humility of Christ's incarnation, the unusual fulfillment of how God orchestrated events and turn the heart of the king said that they'd end up in Bethlehem, the perfection of his timing that God is in control.
Luke also let us know how some of the most unlikely people become really the first human evangelists there introduced to us in verse eight.
Notice there 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 is unnamed that could've been Gabriel, he's been busy during the season were not told in the glory dock so the Shekinah glory of the Lord shone around them, which is unique in its expression there so much here I'm I'm flying through it. But think about the fact that the Lord is is lying in a manger feed trough, but now here the glory of the Lord is shining around the shepherds it if if there's anything that would indicate at least two persons of the Godhead would be this, you got a baby Lord and you have the glory of the Lord that shining here but the glory of the Lord is shining around them in a course they do. We do they shake with fear.
The angel said to them, fear not for behold I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all of the people, by the way, this phrase you want to underline. I bring you good news is one verb you on the lid so my gives us our English word evangelism. That's what evangelism is.
We got some good news to tell you we want to tell you some great news. This is what evangelism it back in the first century this one firm would be used for a messenger delivering a message for McCain. It will be used to announce the birth of a royal air. It would also be used to announce some victory and isn't that the gospel is it that we were informing people were delivering a message from the king were telling them the royal heir to the throne of David is been born, the Messiah and his that's it. That's true because this isn't just any baby would. Verse 11 friend. He was born this day today in the city of David a Savior, Savior deliver rescuer from danger, typically used, who is Christ. That means the anointed one. Only the Messiah can claim the title and he's also noticed the Lord Curry offices. The word is used a thousand times in the Greek translation of the Old Testament for Yahweh, Jehovah Jehovah this is Jehovah. This is God in the flesh and and here's the sign notice wrapped in swaddling claws and lying in a manger feed trough. That's the sign I get a be a sign. Well, there might be more than one baby born in Bethlehem among all these travelers, but he'll be the only baby lying in a feed trough which highlights his humiliation backup just a minute. The angel is delivering this rather stunning incarnation news to the shepherds, which is fascinating.
If you're older and the faith you're aware that shepherds and these days were allowed to testify in court. Why choose them to testify of Christ's birth, they were ceremonially unclean. They were able to keep all the regulations there to work on the Sabbath. They work seven days a week. Evidently the sheep wouldn't take a day off so because of that trouble.
According to the mission collection of Jewish codified law. There consider perpetually unclean. There just an inch or two above leopards. Why announce this to them and wondered what happened to the Sanhedrin Israel Supreme Court with with these these Jewish scholars and attorneys.
What happened to the leading rabbis of the day what would happen to the chief priests in Jerusalem. What I would do it justice. I'd like to send an angel over that guy told Holland big boy your you're not the Savior of the world you think the angel got the wrong address back to this day. Shepherds are not the movers and shakers of society, especially in Third World countries there hired to do labor. Nobody else wants to do Timothy Laney at in his journal published a few years ago I pulled off my shelf again this week. He recorded his insights gleaned from a year of field research living among Bedouin Shepherd in the Middle East as he worked on his PhD.
He literally lived with them. Travel with. In his introduction to his book he records what happened when he told them he wanted to live with them and study them and research them.
Here's the response that quote what is there to research about us we we spend our lives running after sheep and goats.
We don't have a home nor an address. We sleep under the open sky in winter, summer in the rain year after year carrying cooking utensils on camels and mules.
We can even rest in one place for a week.
Why will you waste your time.
We are nothing. Isn't it interesting how the gospel begins in this manner. In fact, elevating this humble role to stand this day as a metaphor for biblical leadership in Ephesians 411.
The term for pastors comes from this term for Shepherd. The apostle Peter will call Jesus Christ the chief Shepherd of the church, writer of Hebrews will call them the great Shepherd affect the Lord himself adopts this term as he refers to himself as the good Shepherd you may be aware that today is our first Sunday to assemble and renew name what what what a sweet image and that's what we hope to present of our Lord and his leadership and care we want to be known, above all the other titles in and identifiers in terms and names is simply a church that belongs to him where the shepherds church well. Verse 13 suddenly were told this one angel is now joined by a host multitude actually a military term and they begin saying more singing the word I knows often used to replace Halal in the Old Testament, the this is more like chanting it on the big angel singing base and little angels sing the tenant.
This is really more about chant and would've shook the earth united John and his tour will see 100 million angels. Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased Jewish couples will typically hire local musicians to help them celebrate the birth of a child chosen to marry her ROI Monday. They certainly can't afford musicians that are far from home, God the father sends the musician directly from heaven. When the concert is finished, the shepherds take off for 16 and they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the baby in the manger indicates implies there alone at this point when they saw it, they made known the saying that it and told them concerning a child and all who heard it wondered clear others are showing up now news is spreading everyone's mystified there, marveling at the tail of these shepherds about angels appearing in the sky singing of the Savior, then another Savior is over there around a really some of the people probably walked away shaking their heads thinking though shepherds of been out of the open way too long, seven days a week too long.
There is no doubt ask questions.
Told her verse 19 and Mary treasured it all. She pondered it at me.
She tried to put the pieces together. She can't quite figure out. Notice the shepherds returned, glorifying, praising God same virtues for the Angels are not doing what the Angels were doing it. It implies there now singing with the angels were singing there now chanting on their way back the lyrics to the song they just learned it's stuck with them.
In fact, I'm sure they never ever forgot it becomes the first him so to speak. The first chorus after the birth of Christ.
We need to follow the example of the shepherds and keep singing about the glory of God in the gospel of God. We need to follow their example.
There telling everybody they can keep it to themselves. They're giving their delivering the gospel, the good news. Let's pray that God will allow us to do that in this this year you say that I'm not trained in evangelism. We all need to go to medical school to tell somebody you found a good doctor, you don't need to go to culinary school that tell somebody found a good restaurant. You don't need to be formally trained in theology to tell somebody you found the Savior. If this group of unlettered illiterate poor shepherds can do this okay so can we. Well several years after this scene here and look to Caesar Augustus ironically in the month of August caught a chill on a night journey by ship developed into pneumonia, and this 76-year-old son of a God worship as deity called the Savior of the world, the deliverer of peace. Those are all his title passed away, and three days later he did not rise again. Jesus would have been around 18 years of age. I spent time just wondering when he heard the news.
If he quietly reflected on the tragedy that this Caesar had adopted titles that Jesus knew by now belonged only to the Messiah to him that he was the divine ruler of the kingdom to come, that he was the son of God. He once Savior that he prints. I hope that the example we've seen in this band of shepherds has challenged you today.
You've tuned into wisdom for the heart. Stephen Davey is in a series from Luke one through three, called good news of great joy.
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