This Christmas I had the good fortune to hear a cracking sermon about the Shepherds from Luke 2:8-20.
One thing struck me that I’d not seen before. This passage is all about not what the Shepherds see but, more importantly, Luke wants to draw our attention to what they are told. Let me try and demonstrate my case.
The angels appear and give a message. This bit we all know. But then note how it goes on – the common foundation is the word already spoken to them.
Luke 2:15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”
so off they go, see the child and,
Luke 2:17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.
Just stop and consider that for a moment. They don’t tell people about the baby, they tell people what they’ve been told about the baby. So what do we do when we tell others about Christmas? We don’t say “come and see the baby” – we are to say “come and see the baby who is a saviour, Christ the Lord”.
note, also, the close;
Luke 2:20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Luke is one of those preachers from the old school, i.e. “tell them what you’re going to say, then tell them, then repeat it”.
As he closes this little chapter he wants us to know that what the Shepherds saw was just as it had been told them. God’s message can be trusted. The message of Christmas is not just that a baby has been born but that the Christ, the saviour of the World has arrived.
The manger without a Christ who is the saviour of the World is an empty manger. So, next Christmas, let’s not just tell people about the baby but also about what the angels say about the baby.
Let’s pass on the full message, just as it has been told us.