Topic: Default Passage: Luke 2:6–2:11
FROM FEAR -> GLORIOUS GOOD NEWS -> GREAT JOY
At the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington DC I was overcome by a wall of names. The memorial itself was beautiful. But it was simply a wall of names. Then I noticed an elderly couple touching the wall. I did some math and it was very possible that they were touching the name of a son. A son who was loved and who loved. A son who had hopes and dreams. He had his own story.
Each name on that wall has a story. So you do.
Consider this as you read your bibles. All those names we come across are people with stories. Some names are strange and sometimes they come at you in waves. But each one is a person with a story.
The same goes for our nameless "shepherds".
Shepherding wasn't something kids wanted to do when they grew up. You didn't aspire to being a shepherd. You ended up being a shepherd.
If society had any expectations of them, they probably didn't measure up. They ended up here because they didn't have their stuff together. They are not part of the "1%". Pay was bad, life options were limited. This could lead to a general lack of hope.
If they had families, shepherding didn't let you provide for them all that well. What happens to your wife and kids when you die? Not a great retirement plan.
In the greater Roman empire, these people didn't matter all that much. They were the "little people" who didn't have great jobs, they worried about providing for their families. Does that story sound familiar? Sound anything like your own?
If you live here in Wyoming, there is a good chance your story is similar to the shepherds.
These shepherds didn't have lives that were defined by an enduring joy that would sustain them through those difficult life circumstances.
How often to we get lost in our own difficult circumstances? We have glimpses of happiness, sure. But enduring joy that transcends our circumstances? We really are similar to the shepherds.
So if the angels wanted to deliver news of great joy they picked the right people. These people lacked joy. They needed great joy.
The heavens opened and the gloy of God absolutely FREAKED THEM OUT! They were filled with fear. The angels had to assure them not to fear. These "little people" were the first people to hear this good news of the long-promised rescuer.
This Christ or "messiah" was needed to fix God's broken world. It was broken by people and our sin. The shepherds understood, as do you, that this world of mass shootings and death screams out for a deliverer. It wasn't created this way.
God made this world (humans included) and He made it all "good". There was no sin or death. Then in Genesis 3 we see sin enter the world. We then inherit a world corrupted by the results of sin. Our nature is corrupted, our actions are corrupted. Our hearts and our hands are guilty. That is the world the shepherds lived in. And the hebrew people heard the prophets who pointed to a coming rescuer Who would deal with the problem of sin.
The angels announced the good news that the long-promised rescuer had come! And who did God choose to reveal His glory to first through this good news? The strong, rich, mighty and powerful? Nope. Shepherds. The least, the weak, the broken, the ones who lacked joy most. He picked the ones who most needed this good news.
We need this good news too. Our circumstances are pretty difficult. Our jobs, marriages, health--all of it is tough. Sin is real. And so often it blinds us. So God breaks into our mess with His glory. We need that glorious good news to help us get through. It's our hope.
Our sin is bad. But our savior is so much greater! That gives us hope that will pull us through our cirucmstances that too often steal our joy. He desires that we be joyful. And that joy can come be complete with this newbown Christ.
It was into our messy world that He stepped into. Jesus moved into our neighborhood. He chose to live among, love and invest most in the weak, the outcast, the downtrodden. Why does he come to shepherds first?
You see, if God chose to go to the powerful and to use them to declare His message it wouldn't be newsworthy. The rich and powerful get all the breaks. That's how the world works.
Instead, since He is about HIS glory, He chose people like us--shepherds--to declare His good news. In doing so His glory shines through. Shepherds? When people like us get to carry this glory it's news! Good news!
If God can use me in the midst of my brokenness, He can use you too. You see, the only way to qualify for God's grace is to admit that you need grace--that you DON'T "have it all together".
What do you turn to in order to get through your circumstances? Your image before other people? Your health? Your job? Your marriage? Those will not pull you through. They will fail you. But this glorious God who breaks into our world and meets us where we are, HE has come to offer you good news of GREAT JOY that will pull you through your circumstances. He works through your weakness! So no more shame or fear! He came to shepherds to us because we need a savior more than anyone!
God's story is glorious. It's good news! And with Jesus as the hero of your story, you get to step into His story--even with your brokenness. Don't worry so much about not measuring up. Jesus measured up. He lived the perfect life we could never live. He died the perfect, sacrificial death we deserved. He walked out of the tomb, destroying death for all who believe He is Who He says He is. Do you believe that?