It’s that great time of the year again. It seems the years are getting much shorter. When I was young, I thought Christmas would never get here. As my age has increased the years have grown shorter. What hasn’t changed is the thrill of remembering His birth. Commercialism seems to increase each year. Christmas decorations are displayed before Thanksgiving. The quest for the almighty dollar has not dulled the announcement of the Saviour.
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:8-11
Oh, what a word “Saviour” is. God’s eternal Book has recorded what occurred on that eventful night among a group of shepherds doing their job. No crowds looking on, no publicity or cameras; just some shepherds tending their flocks: unbeknown to them that the God of the universe was paying them a special visit. Being a shepherd did not require even a GED. Anybody could be a shepherd because the job required no special skills or IQ. This is not saying that to be a good shepherd there were some great characteristics needed. Anyone could be a shepherd, but not everyone could be a good shepherd. That was a title that Christ gave to Himself:
“I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” John 10:11
What a job description! There are many different characteristics that make a good employee; faithfulness, promptness, energetic, loyal, honest, dependable, neatness, cleanliness, etc. Notice that Jesus said He would give His life for the sheep. Many employees have lost their lives in the course of doing their jobs; not many have volunteered to give their lives.
Jesus said something else about Him being a shepherd:
“I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.” John 10:14
Jesus has a personal relationship with His sheep. That is the difference between religion and Christianity. Religion is rules, rituals and regulations. Christianity is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. From the world’s viewpoint it would seem that the angelic host would have announced the birth of God in the flesh in the Temple at Jerusalem. Doesn’t it just seem logical that the birth of God’s Son should be heralded first among His chosen people in their Temple? If not announced there, then surely it would be announced at the university or some synagogue where the religious were gathered. Why on some lonely hillside outside of Bethlehem? In actuality, the birth of Christ was announced some 600 years before by Micah the prophet (Micah 5:2.) You would have thought that a watchman would have been placed in Bethlehem by the Jewish leaders, so as not to miss that event. Not only were they not watching, their memory had to be jogged by the magi and then they made an effort to look up the information. With all of the changes in culture and technology, one thing hasn’t changed; men still do not pay much attention to God’s words. The words of God that He placed in a Book only seem to be of any importance to those who personally know the “good Shepherd.” Note that Christ was speaking of personal knowledge. I know many people, but I do not know them personally. I know their name, I recognize their face, I know something of their background and what they do; I can give you many facts about their life, but I do not know them personally. Neither do they know me! We have a prime example of this type of situation in Matthew 7:22-23:
“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
Obviously claiming to know Jesus is insufficient. The real question is, “Does He know you?”
What did Jesus say? He said that He knew His sheep and that His sheep knew Him. He also added in John 10:27:
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”
A shepherd’s sheep knew his voice. They paid no attention to other shepherds, regardless of how much the other shepherds yelled at them. A sheep did not ignore his shepherds voice…a Christian should not ignore God’s words. A sheep followed his shepherd, he did not have his own agenda. Notice that Jesus did not say they might hear and follow, or should hear and follow, or in all probability….it was emphatic! They will hear. They will follow.
It seems that we may have a lot more wolves in sheep’s clothing that we could ever imagine.
What did those shepherds do? First, they got up and checked out what the angels had told them; they went to Bethlehem (Luke 2:15.) Secondly, they hurried to see Jesus (Luke 2:16.) Thirdly, they didn’t hang around fellowshipping; they started telling people about Jesus (Luke 2:17.)
I am so thankful that once a year the world is reminded that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. I am also thankful that once a year the world is reminded that He arose. We only, of all people, have a living “Saviour.” Have a Merry Christmas. Keep Looking Up!