Stephen Caswell © 2003
Change On Pitcairn Island
The true story of the Mutiny on the Bounty has often been retold. One part that deserves retelling was the transformation wrought by one book. Nine mutineers with six native men and twelve native women put ashore on Pitcairn Island in 1790. One sailor soon began distilling alcohol, and the little colony was plunged into debauchery and vice.
Ten years later, only one white man survived, surrounded by native women and half-breed children. In an old chest from the Bounty, this sailor one day found a Bible. He began to read it and then to teach it to the others. The result was that his own life and ultimately the lives of all those in the colony were changed. Discovered in 1808 by the USS Topas, Pitcairn had become a prosperous community with no jail, no whisky, no crime, and no laziness. Because the Gospel changes lives. It’s Good News for sinners!
Most people like to receive good news. The announcement of a new baby brings great joy to families. A number of families at Tent Hill experienced this recently. The angels brought Good News of great joy for all people. A very special baby, Jesus Christ, had been born at Bethlehem. Today, I would like to look at the response of the shepherds to the Good News. They Heard The Good News, They Searched For The Savior, They Shared The Good News.
Firstly, They Heard The Good News
Luke 2:8-10: Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 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.
The shepherds were terrified at the sight of the angel. The original literally says that they were afraid with a great fear. Because God’s glory shone around them they feared for their lives. But the angel meant them no harm. He said to them behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy to all people. The angel says behold, because he wants them to listen; to pay close attention. Today, God says to us pay close attention. Listen to the Gospel.
Luke 2:10-12: 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. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.
What were the Good Tidings the angel shared? A very special person had been born. The words, I bring you good tidings εὐαγγελίζω is usually translated I preach the Gospel. The angel was proclaiming the Gospel to the shepherds on that special night. The Gospel has, and always will be centred in Jesus Christ. The Gospel is for all people. God sent the good news firstly to poor folk like shepherds and later to wise men and the rich.
The City of David. What is significant about being born in the city of David? This states that He is born to be King. He came from David’s line and was the rightful King of Israel. Luke 1:31-32: And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. The wise men said, where is who has been born King of the Jews. They came to worship Him. The gift of gold was right for a king. Later on when Christ was crucified the sign on the cross said Jesus Of Nazareth, King Of The Jews. When Christ comes back he has written on His robe and thigh King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Since Jesus Christ is the King of Kings we should submit to His rule. One day all men will. He is worthy of our obedience..
A Savior. What does a Savior do? He saves others who can’t save themselves. The name Jesus Ἰησοῦς means Jehovah saves. Joshua is the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek word Jesus. Joshua יְהֹושֻׁעַ means Jehovah is salvation. Matthew 1:21: And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. Jesus was born to save us from our sins. This He would accomplish by dying on the cross in our place. The gift of myrrh speaks of suffering and sacrifice. It was used to embalm the dead. The Babe of Bethlehem would become the Christ of Calvary.
Luke 2:13-14: And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men! Christ’s ministry on earth restored peace between man and God. Jesus paid our debt to God. He died on the cross for our sins. Romans 5:1: Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, Jesus Christ was born to die for your sins, and my sins. Acts 4:12: Salvation is in no other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. Since Jesus is the Savior of the world we must believe in Him. Only He can save us!
Christ. What does the word Christ mean? The word Christ Χριστός means Anointed One, God’s Messiah, the Son of God. God promised to send the Messiah to Israel. The prophets foretold that the Christ would come and save Israel. Matthew 16:15-16: He said to them, But who do you say that I am? Simon Peter answered and said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. God sent Jesus into the world to be the Christ or Messiah. The gift of frankincense speaks of a perfect, sinless life. Jesus Christ is God’s way of salvation. Don’t look anywhere else. He is the only way. John 14:6: Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
Lord. The word Lord κύριος means Master, Sovereign. This title is normally given to God. It refers to His sovereign power over all creation. This title refers to Christ’s deity. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, But He is also God the Son. Because Jesus Christ is God we must worship Him. Philippians 2:9-11: Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Jesus Christ is the sovereign God. Therefore we must worship Him!
Secondly, They Searched For The Saviour
Luke 2:15-16: 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. And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.
a. They Acted Quickly
Once the angels left the shepherds they decided to go to Bethlehem and see the thing that has come to pass. The word thing ῥῆμα, is usually translated word in the Bible. The shepherds wanted to see the Word that had come to pass. What word? God’s word about the promised Messiah. The message that the prophets had foretold. Their response is completely different to the religious leaders who stayed in Jerusalem. They knew that Christ’s birth was important and decided to check it out for themselves. When you hear the Good News of salvation you need to act on it. Now is the accepted time; today is the day of salvation. The wise men made haste. Our salvation is too important to put off.
b. They Found The Messiah
Verse 16 says that they found Mary and Joseph and the Babe in the manger. The word found implies finding something after a diligent search. They didn’t quit till they succeeded. They saw the Messiah and their lives would never be the same again. Perhaps this is the first time you have heard the Gospel. Or perhaps the Lord is challenging you right now that you need to believe in Jesus Christ. Can I encourage you not to rest until you find eternal life in Jesus Christ. Your eternal destiny will be determined by what you do with Jesus Christ. Can I encourage you to search with all your heart like the wise men and the shepherds. Believe in Jesus Christ and receive Him as your Lord and Savior.
Origin Of Ben Hur
Two unbelievers once sat on a railroad train, discussing the life of Christ. One of them said, I think an interesting romance could be written about him. The other replied, And you are just the man to write it. Tear down the prevailing sentiment about His divinity, and paint Him as a man — a man among men.
The suggestion was acted upon and the romance written. The man who made the suggestion was Colonel Ingersoll, the noted atheist. The writer was General Lew Wallace, and the book was called Ben Hur.
In the process of constructing the life of Christ, General Wallace found himself facing the greatest life ever lived on earth. The more he studied, the more he was convinced Christ was more than man. Until one day, he was forced to cry Verily, this was the Son of God!
The Gospel proclaims the way of salvation. You have heard it today and perhaps in the past. What are you going to do about Jesus Christ? Have you searched for the truth?
Thirdly, They Shared The Good News
Luke 2:17-18, 20: Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.
a. They Saw The Messiah
Firstly, they saw the Messiah themselves. The shepherds recognized the sign that the angels had said. What sign? The sign that the eternal Almighty God had become a baby. The Infinite Glorious Creator had humbled Himself to live amongst weak and sinful humanity. What a contrast. The shepherds saw this amazing sign and believed in the Messiah. How do we know this? Because of their response.
b. They Spread The Word
Secondly, the shepherds went out and spread the word. They spread the same word that they had received from the angels. They had heard the Good News and found the Christ Child. They had seen the Messiah and believed in Him. Now they were themselves preaching the Good News to others. Jesus Christ the Savior and King of the world had come. This good news must not remain secret. We must share it with others. Those that heard marveled at the shepherd’s words. This is understandable. The Gospel is an amazing message. Salvation is a free gift. It’s all of grace and none of works. Today, people still marvel that God should pay the price of our eternal life.
c. They Sang For Joy
The shepherds then returned to their sheep rejoicing at God’s gift. They praised and glorified Him along the way. God had done something wonderful for mankind. He had sent His Son to save us from our sins. God alone deserves the glory. And this is what the wise men did. If you knew that your sins were forgiven, wouldn’t you rejoice too? The night I got saved 25 years ago I rejoiced and praised God.
Have you heard the Good News? Have you believed in Jesus Christ the Savior of the world? He came into the world and lived a perfect life and died for you. Have you submitted to Him as your King? Have you heard this Good News before? If so, why are you putting it off? There is no other way to heaven. Only Jesus can save us from our sin. Please receive Him today. If you have received Christ, Are you spreading the Word? Are you telling others the Good News? Are you glorifying God for His grace to you?
Jude 24-25: Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, Who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.