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The Acclamations1

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The Angel to the Shepherds

Luke 2:8-14 And in the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 “And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14  “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

 

§  The first announcement of the birth of the Savior was made to shepherds—how fitting. The birth of the Good Shepherd, the Great Shepherd, and the Chief Shepherd of our souls first announced to those men whose very work spoke of the person and work of Jesus Christ—the Lamb of God.

o    The Lamb, who would lay down His life for us, provide for and lead us as His sheep...

o    The Lamb, not revealed to the priests or the Pharisees, but to shepherds—the poor, the very lowest…

§  Further, there is good evidence these men may have been watching over the temple sheep—sheep designated for sacrifice. Sacrifices which spoke of Jesus Christ and the reason for His coming into the world…”to save His people from their sins…”

§  He came as the babe of the cradle, He would depart the man of the cross, and one day, return again as the Lion of the tribe of Judah…

“And (the) angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them.”  “And the glory of the Lord shown around them.”  “Shown around” meaning “to shine”, “to be completely encompassed in light”, the light of “the glory of the Lord.”

§  This was nothing less than the Shekinah, the brilliant white light of God’s glory, which represented the holiness and presence of God in the Old Testament…

o    This light was seen at the transfiguration (Peter, James, John, Jesus)…

o    By Stephen as the heavens opened to receive him as he died for his faith…

o    And by Paul when he was struck on the Damascus road, convincing him Jesus was the Christ….

o    It was this glory that appeared to Abraham, causing him to give up everything in pursuit of a city whose builder and maker was God…

o    It appeared in the tabernacle, and in the temple, as evidence of God’s presence…

o    And was the glory which Ezekiel saw depart from the temple when the people rebelled and forsook God…

·         For centuries, Israel had been without this visible blessing. God’s glory, His Shekinah, had not been seen for more than 500 years… Why this display of God’s glory now? 

(1) The Shekinah presence of God coupled with the birth of Christ, was a reminder that the provision of His Son was an act, not only of His love, but also of His divine holiness. God was now reaching down to man to remove the barrier which separated us from Him.

(2) The Shekinah glory also authenticated the absence of sin in this Child and declared His qualifications as our Redeemer.

“And they were terribly frightened.”  Literally “they feared a great fear.”

§  But why?  More than anything, it was the contact with the glory of God’s holiness...

o    Can you imagine how the unbeliever, whether immoral, moral, or religious, will feel when they face God in all His holiness at the Great White Throne Judgment and must stand there without the righteousness of Jesus Christ?

 

“And the angel said unto them do not be afraid, for I bring you good news of great joy, which shall be for all people. For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

§  The reason for not being fearful is given in the good news, which he was about to announce. A message to dispel all fear and anxiety…

§  Joy which stresses quality—real joy, the kind which only God can give through His son…

§  The adjective “great” stresses the measure, quantity, and degree of this joy.

§  Like the peace, which passes all human understanding, so is this joy—when we accept the news by faith, it is a joy like no other…

 

We hear the story every year and reflect on its simplicity and beauty… it points us to that great event one night 2,000 years ago when God became man and took upon Himself true humanity.

But what is our response to this great historical event? Is it one of awe, of praise, of changed priorities, of seeking and finding and telling others? Having received the Savior, do we allow Him to change our lives?

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