Christmas in May

Posted: May 23, 2016 in Luke, Uncategorized

Luke 2:1-20, “Christmas in May”

When it comes to the Christmas story, the account found in Luke’s gospel is by far the most famous in all of Scripture.  There’s a reason for that…it’s basically the only account.  Matthew is the only other gospel writer to address Jesus’ birth at all, and he does it from the viewpoint of Jesus’ adoptive father, Joseph.  What we normally think of as Matthew’s Christmas are actually the events that take place after Jesus’ birth (the magi/wise men, etc.), and that doesn’t take place until the Child is at least a toddler.  Everything we know about the specific night of Jesus’ birth is found in the gospel of Luke, and he basically breaks it down into three sections: (1) the birth, (2) the announcement, and (3) the visit.  The Savior arrives – He is proclaimed by angels – He is seen and proclaimed by men.  A Savior has been given to us…hallelujah!  What do we do now?  The same thing as the shepherds: see Him & make Him known.

Before we get there, we need to back up a bit for context.  When we last looked at Luke, we saw him describing the birth and naming of John the Baptist.  Luke has a tendency of alternating between the lives of the Messiah’s forerunner & the Messiah Himself – something which is seen from the very opening of the book.  First, the angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias the priest as he ministered in the temple, offering incense.  Zacharias was told that his wife Elizabeth, though well past the age of childbearing, would bear a son & this son would go forth in the spirit and power of Elijah, fulfilling the prophesied role of the Messianic forerunner.  Zacharias was skeptical & struck mute until he saw these things come to pass, which soon began to happen.

Meanwhile, the angel Gabriel also appeared to the virgin Mary, who was already betrothed in marriage to Joseph of Nazareth.  She was told that God favored her, and would give her the highest blessing of giving birth to God’s true Son, who would bring an everlasting kingdom.  Mary was bewildered at how this could happen to a virgin, and the angel gave Elizabeth as an example of the power of God.  Mary visited her relative, saw these things for herself & gave praise and glory to God.

Finally, Elizabeth gave birth to her son, naming him John in spite of the objections from well-meaning friends and family.  Zacharias defended & upheld her decision, demonstrating his own faith in God, which caused him to immediately regain his speech.  He prophesied of the Messiah yet to be born, and over his own son who would be used in miraculous ways by God to proclaim the Messiah.

Due to Luke’s back-and-forth, the narrative now returns to Jesus’ family.  For the first time in the book, the Savior will be seen, though only as a humble babe.  Even so, that Babe was the incarnate Savior – the fulfillment of the promises of God.  Those who saw Him, believed in Him, and received Him as Lord would receive the promise of eternal life – forever promised peace with the Most High God.  What we receive, others can receive.  So see Him, yes – but proclaim Him as well.  Know Jesus, but go further than that…know Him and make Him known.

Luke 2:1–20

  • The Birth (1-7)

1 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

  • It is ironic that this statement, obviously intended by Luke to firmly ground his account in historical detail, became so incredibly debated through the years.  The facts presented are basic enough. (1) There is a named Caesar reigning over the Empire: the well-known Augustus, who ruled from 31BC to 14AD. (2) There is a census ordered by the Roman government.  (3) That census took place during the time that the military figure Quirinius governed Syria.  The problem is making all of the available dates match.  The Jewish historian Josephus does indeed recall a Roman census, which is even mentioned in Acts 5:37, and Quirinius was the official governor of Syria during that time.  The problem is that those events took place no earlier than 6AD, when Quirinius was appointed the governor.  From the Biblical record, we know that Jesus was born during the reign of Herod the Great over Judea, who died in 4BC.  There is a gap of 10 years, seemingly a massive historical contradiction.  Was Luke flat-out wrong?  Skeptical historians have claimed he is, and their skepticism persists today all over the internet.
  • Luke was not wrong, and it can be verified through the text.  First, there is historical evidence that Quirinius might have governed Syria twice: one without the official title of “governor,” and a later one with it.  Luke supports that idea in that he doesn’t give the title of “governor” to Quirinius, but instead describes his role in a verb (“was governing Syria”).  Second, it is possible to translate “first” as describing the census itself – and the NASB, ESV, and others do exactly that: “this was the first census/registration.”  That would mean that Luke specifically refers to an earlier census during the period that Quirinius ruled Syria, but was not officially the governor – something that would fit precisely during the last years of Herod the Great.
  • Question: why should anyone buy that explanation?  First, because it is plausible.  Second, because Luke (and the rest of the Bible) has been proven correct on every other historical and archaeological objection through the centuries.  It has earned the right to be given the benefit of the doubt.  Every single question that has been raised has been answered, when the evidence was finally discovered.  The famed archaeologist Sir William Ramsay specifically set out in the early 20th century to disprove Luke, and found he couldn’t do it.  Luke accurately named 32 countries, 54 cities, 9 islands, and more.  His record is solid!  The thing to remember is this: a lack of evidence cannot disprove historical accounts in the Bible, because it does not contradict them.  Evidence that is lacking might (and usually is) eventually found, and when it is, the Bible is always proven true.
    • The bottom line: the Bible is trustworthy.  And it is important that it is!  After all, we base our eternity on the truths that it proclaims.  It we start to doubt it on the details, what does that mean for the much more important things?  But we can believe it on the details…every word.
  • That’s all the history.  What’s the theology?  Simple: God rules over the rulers.  Those who governed the world at the time were Roman pagans.  The Jews lived in their ancestral home of Israel, but they did not have independence there.  When the Romans ordered them to pay taxes, they paid.  When the Romans ordered them to move around, they moved.  But even Rome was subject to the will of God.  God desired that His Son be born in Bethlehem in fulfillment of prophecy, and this was precisely the way He moved to make it happen (as we’ll see in vs. 4).  The Romans may have ordered the census, but God was the One who moved upon the Romans to do so.
    • BTW – that God is sovereign over the kings and rulers of the world is extremely important for us to remember (especially in an election year).  Our faith should not rise and fall with whoever happens to live in the White House in any particular year.  Whoever sleeps in the presidential suite is (1) allowed there by God, and (2) ultimately ruled over by God.  God is sovereign.  He may give our nation over to certain things – He might show us mercy in others.  Either way, we need to remember that He is in control, and that our ultimate home is not of this world. 

4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.

  • Luke had introduced Joseph to his readers in 1:27, but only in passing, as the focus at that time was upon Mary & the message she received from the angel Gabriel.  This is Joseph’s first actual appearance in the book, and he does what everyone else in Judea at the time was doing: travelling to the home of his ancestor.  Joseph and Mary both lived in the Galilean village of Nazareth (“city” as we think of it, is a generous term!), and (as required by their pagan rulers, but ultimately by the hand of God) they made the arduous 80 mile journey to Bethlehem.  It likely would have taken 4-5 days for them to make the trip by foot, no doubt made quite a bit more difficult by Mary’s pregnancy.  She had found favor with God, and was blessed by Him to be Jesus’ mother, but it didn’t mean that God called her to an easy life.  She certainly experienced hardship along the way, as did Joseph, who lovingly helped her through it.
  • Luke tells us nothing of Joseph’s own internal struggle with the news of his betrothed wife’s unexpected pregnancy (that’s covered by Matthew) – but it is obvious that he has himself come to faith in God’s promise, simply by the fact that he led his wife to Bethlehem.  Joseph did not cast her out, nor did he do anything but seek to protect her and provide for her as her husband.  They could not yet live as husband and wife, but he served her in every way possible as a loving supportive husband.
  • Why Bethlehem?  Because it was “the city of David” – his ancestral home.  Both Joseph and Mary were of the lineage of David (something we’ll look at in Ch 3), and so they went where David was born & where he had made his mark.  Ultimately, they went where God intended for them to go – they went where the Scripture prophesied they would go.  Micah 5:2, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”  From Bethlehem would come the Messiah King.  From Bethlehem (Hebrew for “house of bread”) would come the Bread of Life.  This is what God said would happen – itself the fulfillment of a promise He had made to David that He would build David an everlasting house.  God would give David a Son who would reign over Israel forever.  A Child would be born, but He would be no ordinary son of David’s.  This is Child who’s existence was far older than David’s – Someone who’s origin cannot be known, for He has always existed “from of old, from everlasting.”  God promised a King, and He gave one in Jesus!

6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

  • How did the King arrive?  In the most humble of circumstances!  This was no state-of-the-art hospital with sterile instruments and medical staff.  This was no luxurious home surrounded by friends and family.  This was a place where hardly any clean sheets were even available!  Joseph and Mary were lonely, weary travelers, and they stayed wherever room could be made for them in a town crowded with people arriving for the census.
  • To be honest, many of the mental pictures we carry of the event, we don’t really have any evidence for.  We tend to imagine that Joseph and Mary arrived on the eve of Jesus’ birth, with Mary going into labor pains as Joseph frantically searched for a room, finally being directed to a stable out back.  It’s all very dramatic, but at the end of the day, it’s just that: imagined drama.  Luke simply doesn’t give us any more details that what is provided in vss. 6-7.  It was “while they were there” in Bethlehem, that the time came for Mary to give birth.  Whether that took several hours, or several days, we don’t know.  We do know that “there was no room for them at the inn,” but we don’t know if they were placed in a stable or (traditionally) a cave out back.  All we know is that a crib was not available for the Babe, and so a manger/feeding trough was used.  We certainly don’t know anything about a cruel heartless innkeeper (none is mentioned), or any of the other dramatic details.  Births are dramatic enough…Luke didn’t need to provide the other details.
  • What we do know is that this isn’t how kings normally arrive.  Again, there was nothing luxurious about this.  There was nothing earth-shatteringly powerful that anyone could see the moment that Jesus exited Mary’s womb and entered the world.  It was just a birth.  Jesus came like any human came – like every other human that has come from the dawn of time.  God humbled Himself to that extent.  Just His birth is a sign of His love for us.  God loved us enough to become one of us.  The eternal Word of God became a human being.  He completely identifies with us in every way.  He allowed Himself no special privilege – not even any easier birth for His earthly family.  He came into the world like every other child born into the ancient third-world came: in poverty – in humility – in complete dependence upon others.  (That fact alone is enough to boggle the mind!)
  • There was one divine luxury allowed this Child, but it took place well outside the city limits: a supernatural birth announcement…
  • The Announcement (8-14)

8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.

  • Much has been made of the fact that the shepherds were actually in the fields with their flock, keeping watch at night.  It seems that if the shepherds were actually in the fields, it must have been warm enough for them to be in the fields, and thus the birth of Jesus could not have taken place in December (much less having the specific date of December 25).  In reality, we simply don’t know what time of year it was that Jesus was born – Luke doesn’t give us any indication.  Winter isn’t necessarily ruled out, because Israeli winters can be relatively mild.  That said, we also don’t have any reason to believe it was winter, in that the date of December 25 wasn’t celebrated for Jesus’ birth until Constantine in the 4th century.
  • Of course, all of that misses the main point.  Luke isn’t describing the time of year of Jesus’ birth – he’s describing the announcement of Jesus’ birth.  Out of all the people in the world that God could have chosen to tell of His Son’s birth, who does He tell?  Shepherds.  He doesn’t send angels to the Jerusalem priests – He doesn’t give visions to the political rulers – He doesn’t even give messages to anyone who would have seemed to be religiously devout.  God gives the news to shepherds.  He goes to those who were smelly & often cast-off.  He goes to those whom no one else wanted around.  Regarding the news of His Son born in abject humility, He goes to those who were themselves in abject humility.  He went to the least expected, to the most undeserving – all to give the most glorious news that that yet crossed the face of the earth since its creation.
    • This is grace.  This is what the good news of the gospel is all about!  We do not deserve to hear the news of Jesus’ coming – much less receive of the things He has accomplished for us.  We do not deserve the salvation of God.  We deserve to be cast out.  We are covered in the stench of our sin, and deserve nothing but judgment from God.  But He announces to us something most amazing when He announces Christ Jesus. 

9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.

  • They were greatly afraid”…no kidding!  Actually, Luke goes out of his way to describe the fear of the shepherds upon seeing the angel.  Literally he says, “and they feared a mega-fear.”  It’s no wonder!  There they were, doing what it is they did every night as they watched over their flock, perhaps watching carefully over pregnant ewes about to give birth to lambs of their own (depending on the time of year it was).  At that moment, the night turns to day as the shining unveiled glory of God bursts forth, and a heavenly angel stands in their midst.  One angel was enough to put down 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in a single night – what could a handful of shepherds do?  No doubt these shepherds didn’t only see the glory of God…their very lives probably flashed before their eyes!

10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

  • What wonderful news!  They didn’t have to be afraid – they didn’t have to mega-fear.  The angel brought good news…the angel brought the gospel!  “Good tidings of great joy” – that is the message of Jesus.  The shepherds initially had mega-fear; the gospel offered mega-joy.  How so?  A Savior had been born!  Christ the Lord had been given, and all peoples everywhere could rejoice.  The King of the Jews had come, exactly according to the promises of God, and He offered great news of salvation to all peoples everywhere.  He would be the Savior for the Jews, and not them only, but also for “all people” throughout the world.
  • Again, this is the gospel.  When we preach the gospel, we are preaching good news – we’re preaching great news – and specifically, we’re telling other people about Jesus.  The gospel isn’t something frightening, or something to be hesitant with – the gospel message is the very best news that has graced the face of the earth.  God has given mankind a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Break it down:
    • A Savior.”  There’s an implication here, is there not?  If a Savior has been given, that means there are people who require saving.  And there are: all of us!  We have sinned, fallen far short of the standard of the glory of God.  We may look at one another and think ourselves to be fairly good & decent people, but once we start to compare ourselves to Almighty God, few people need to be informed of the fact that we are all sinners.  Our lies, our pride, our selfishness – even what we deem to be the smallest of sins becomes glaringly obvious when we are compared to the Perfect God.  We have indeed sinned, and we as sinners will be judged in eternity unless we are somehow saved from it.  Thus God has sent a Savior.  God created us – God loves us, and He doesn’t want us to perish.  He wants us to be saved, so He made it possible for us to be saved.  All we need to do is run in faith to the Savior.  Who is He?
    • Christ the Lord.” Our salvation is not found in ourselves; it’s found in a Person – and a very specific person at that.  Granted, the shepherds at the time did not know His name of Jesus, but they would have certainly have recognized the titles the angel proclaimed.  Christ the Lord is Messiah the King.  He is the Anointed Son of David who is also the Son of God.  He is the One who will rule over all Israel who also rules over all the earth.  He is Christ the Lord.
    • Do you know Him?  Do you know Jesus as your Savior, your King, and your God?  Some want the love and salvation of Jesus, but they don’t want His lordship & reign.  But Jesus isn’t offered to us piecemeal.  He most certainly is the Savior, and He is Christ the Lord.  That is simply who He is.  We cannot receive Him as one without receiving Him as the other.  But we are invited to know Him.  That’s exactly what makes this such great news of great joy!  We can know Him as Savior and Lord & thus know & experience the salvation He offers.

12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

  • Such good news would want to be verified & seen for themselves – and the angel tells them exactly how to do it.  If the shepherds went in to Bethlehem seeking the Savior, they would find Him & they would know Him by the humility of His circumstances.  He’d be wrapped as any other baby would be wrapped, but He would be laid where no other baby would be laid: in a livestock feeding trough.  These shepherds would know the glorious Son of God Messiah King by the humility in which He was clothed.  But when they saw Him, they would know without a doubt that they had found Him.
  • Likewise with us.  We can only know God when we first encounter Him through the humility of Jesus’ incarnation and cross.  But as we do, we also know His glory, for we experience the power of His resurrection from the dead.  When we find Jesus in faith, we know without a doubt that we have found our Savior.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

  • Instantly, one angel turned into a “multitude” – perhaps 12 legions’ worth of angels (?) – all appearing to sing/shout out the praises of God.  The news of Christ is fully deserving of being shouted from the moutaintops, the fields, or wherever else it can possibly be proclaimed.  We almost have to wonder who else heard the song as it echoed off of the countryside.
  • Whether or not the angels’ song should be translated as the KJV/NKJV does, or as the ESV/NASB does (“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased”) rests on the textual difference of one letter in the ancient manuscripts.  Arguments could be made for either rendering, but the overall meaning is clear.  The gift of Jesus is just that: a gift.  The only reason Jesus was born at all is because God demonstrates His grace – He shows us His favor and His goodwill.  The only reason we can have peace with God is because we have received the favor of God – and that gives us every reason possible to give glory to God.
  • The proper response to the gospel is that of praise.  When we have received Jesus as Savior – when we know Him as Christ the Lord – what do we do next?  Give glory to God!  Shout out praises to His name!  Think of it: we have been made at peace with Almighty God.  We have been granted salvation from all of the punishment that is due for all our sin.  Each and every sin we ever committed or will yet commit has found its answer in the cross and resurrection of Jesus.  His salvation is total and eternal.  We can do nothing to earn it, but we can definitely do something after He grants it.  We can praise Him!  We can give glory to God!  We can praise Him with our lips, our lives, and our hearts.  May God help us glorify Him in every way, every day!
  • The Visit (15-20)

15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.

  • That the shepherds went to go find Joseph, Mary, and Jesus ought not to be surprising.  It certainly ought not to be seen as a lack of faith or a test of God.  If you received an angelic vision and a message of where to find the Incarnate God, what would you do?  Go see for yourself!  These men had received a message from Almighty God, via these angels.  They had seen and heard something that only two people in the last 400 years had seen & heard: a message from the Lord.  You bet they wanted to go find what they were told to find, and they didn’t waste any time in doing so.  They didn’t go into town to verify their faith, but to exercise their faith.  The true lack of faith would be to stay in the fields and do nothing.
    • Likewise with the message of the gospel today.  We exercise our faith when we believe; we deny it when we do nothing.  The person and work of Jesus Christ has been made known to us (maybe even just today, for some).  Will you respond?  The shepherds had heard of Christ the Lord, but they would only know Him if they sought Him for themselves.  We’ve heard of Him – have we sought Him?  Those who seek, find.
  • And find Jesus, they did – exactly as the angel had told them.  The Son of God, “lying in a manger.”  The very tool they might have used to feed their own flocks was being used to house Christ the Lord, their Savior.  They were raising lambs for the slaughter – perhaps specifically for the Passover celebration in which the Jews remembered how God purchased their nation out of Egyptian slavery.  Now the shepherds gazed upon a manger, looking at the One who would purchase them out of the slavery of sin and death.  When they looked at that Babe, they saw their Savior.
  • So what did they do?  The same thing as the angel did to them: tell others…

17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

  • These shepherds became the first evangelists in the New Testament.  Others had prophesied of the coming of the Christ; they had seen Him with their own eyes.  They had looked upon the Savior that was proclaimed to them by the angel, and they could not help but proclaim Him to others.  What they saw and experienced would be for the benefit of the whole world, so the whole world needed to know.
  • They still do!  How is the world to hear of Jesus if no one tells them?  Paul made it clear in his letter to the Romans.  After writing how people can know for certain that they are saved when we confess Jesus as our Lord & believe in our hearts that Jesus is risen from the dead, Paul writes of the importance of evangelism.  Romans 10:14–15, "(14) How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? (15) And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!”"  We have been given the most wonderful news for all people – how can we keep it to ourselves?  The world won’t know if no one tells them.  Someone needs be sent, and we’re that someone!  Jesus sent us into the world with the Great Commission to make disciples of all the nations (Mt 28:19-20), and we do it by telling the good news of Jesus, helping others see Him as we have come to see Him as Savior and Lord.
    • We have abundant opportunities to do this every day!  Maybe it’s taking part in an outreach (!) – maybe it’s with a conversation with a co-worker – maybe it’s just leaving a gospel tract (and a nice tip) behind for your restaurant server.  We have opportunities – what we need are eyes that are open to see them and faith enough to step into them.  Do it!  What training did these shepherds have that we do not?  What more did they know that we do not?  We have the completed canon of Scripture given to us – we have the full knowledge of Jesus’ work, death, and resurrection – we have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit & the opportunity to empowered by Him on a daily basis.  We have vastly more resources than did the Christmas shepherds.  So go, and make Jesus widely known!  Tell others of the One you have found, and be ready for people to marvel.

19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.

  • Don’t get the wrong idea – it’s not that the shepherds became evangelists & Mary did nothing.  Mary had her own role to play, and there’s no question she was a powerful witness for her Son all the days of her life.  However, she did not go off into the countryside at that moment.  After all, she had an infant Son for whom to care.  What she did do was remember.  She “kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.”  She filed these things away, thinking about the wonderful blessings of God, and how He was already at work in the life of her & her family.  No doubt it was because she pondered on these things so carefully that Luke was later able to write about it.  After all, by the time Luke wrote, Joseph was likely long-dead.  Who else would he have interviewed about this night?  Mary.
  • It is good to ponder the things of God.  It is good to think carefully upon and mediate upon the works and word of God.  It’s easy to simply move on from day to day without giving things a second thought, but take the time to ponder.  Take time to think about the things that God has done in your life, in the lives of your family and others – to purposefully notice His hand and the fulfillment of His word.  Why?  If for no other reason, it helps us to give Him glory.  When we take the time to purposefully notice His works, then we are able to give Him specific thanks and praise.  (We also might find that He is far more active in our lives than we ever thought possible!)

20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

  • The shepherds didn’t stop praising God when they told everyone they knew about Jesus – they kept praising God all the way back to their fields as they continued working.  A Savior had been born & they had seen Him.  That was something they could sing about the rest of their lives, and no doubt that is exactly what they did.

Conclusion:
It was a holy night in the little town of Bethlehem, but it was not a silent night as shepherds watched their flocks, and they harkened to the herald angels singing. J  It was the first Christmas, and although it probably doesn’t match up well to most of our nativity sets and dramatic imaginations, it was still wonderful.  Actually, it was better than our imaginations can possibly muster.  A Savior had been given, who is Christ the Lord.  God knew our need to be saved, and He moved heaven and earth in order to save us.  Pagan kings were divinely stirred in order that prophecies might be fulfilled.  The infinite God became incarnate Man, and allowed Himself to come to earth in abject poverty and humility.  Angelic messengers were sent with the glory of God to the most unexpected people around to proclaim the message.  Mankind would never have planned the revelation of the Messiah in this way, but God did…and it was perfect.

The Messiah – the Christ – the Savior has been given, and He can be known.  Mary and Joseph knew Him as His earthly family.  The shepherds knew Him as their King, wrapped in swaddling cloths.  We know Him as our Savior and Lord through His resurrection from the dead.  He can still be known today, revealed to anyone who seeks Him in faith – and praise God He has been revealed to us!

Has He been revealed to you?  Have you sought Him out, as did the shepherds.  The glad tidings of mega-joy that they heard is the same message that is proclaimed to you today every time you hear the name of Jesus.  A Savior has been given, and this Savior is Jesus.  You can know Him as your Lord & Savior – you can know the forgiveness of God and receive the assurance that you will spend eternity with Him in heaven.  But you’ve got to respond to the news.  You can’t hear it & then let it go.  You have to exercise faith and come to Jesus.  So come. 

For others of us, we have received Jesus – but perhaps that’s where we stopped.  Let’s move on to what the shepherds did in proclaiming Him to others, praising God all along the way.  Don’t stop with a single outreach – don’t stop with a single gospel tract.  The whole world needs to know our Savior, and they’ve got the opportunity to hear of Him.  All they need is for someone to say something.

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