Summary: God uses outcasts to announce Jesus's birth.
Good News for The Outcasts
Jeffery Anselmi / General
Characters of Christmas / Birth of Jesus; Shepherds at Birth of Christ / Luke 2:8–20
• Do you remember when you had a child, or when you got married or graduated from High School or College?
• What do we usually do when a significant event happens in our life or some great milestone?
• When we have some good news to share, we usually share it through and with the people we love.
• With the advent of social media, that has changed.
• If we do not put it on Facebook, it did not happen.
• Today, we will look at an interesting group with whom God shared are the Good News uniquely.
• God is going to share the Good News of the birth of Jesus through a group of men who, at the time, were social outcasts.
• Who are the social outcasts of today?
• Are there groups of people or people in your life with whom you would not share the Good News of Jesus Christ?
• Who are the outcasts you would walk to the other side of the street to avoid?
• God will choose a group of social outcasts to announce the birth of His Son into the world!
• The Jews living during the time of Jesus would have seen God's choosing the shepherds as unusual.
• Though Scripture is filled with numerous examples of the noble image of the shepherd—even God himself is depicted as a shepherd and Israel as his flock—over time, the cultural image of the shepherd changed for the Jews.
• By the time Jesus entered the world, the Jews did not have a high opinion of shepherds.
• It was quite the opposite.
• But that's what we learn from these characters of the Christmas story: that God's good news is for everyone: kings and shepherds alike.
• And by announcing the birth of Jesus first to the shepherds, God shows that everyone in society can play a pivotal role in helping to build his kingdom.
• The Big Idea for the message today is: God uses outcasts to announce Jesus's birth.
• We need to realize that the Good News of the Gospel is not just for those of us in the United States of a specific socio-economic class or race; the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus is meant for everyone, and we have to be ready; to share it with anyone!
• Let's turn to Luke 2; we will start with verses 8-11.
Luke 2:8–11 (CSB)
8 In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, "Don't be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: 11 Today in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
I. God entrusted His important announcement to outcasts.
• So the question one might ask is, Why Shepherds?
• Why not the religious leaders of the time?
• Why not the government officials?
• Why not the wealthy and connected?
• Luke moved to the fields nearby, outside the village from the dirty manger.
• It was night. Shepherds were there, keeping watch over their flocks.
• Among the occupations, shepherding had a lowly place.
• They were outcasts, not allowed in the city, and not trusted by the general public, for often, they were thieves.
• Luke gave this story about the shepherds for a reason.
• The most significant event in human history had just happened!
• The Messiah who would save the world had been born!
• The Jews waited for this moment for generations, yet who did God use to make the announcement?
• Jesus would come, not to the proud and powerful, but to the outcasts, the humble, those considered "last" on the social lists.
• God brought the first news of his Son's arrival to these men.
• The shepherd was not viewed favorably in Jesus' day.
• The religious authorities despised them.
• The religious authorities of the temple had such a strongly negative view of the shepherd that they kept them from participating in the religious ceremonies in Jerusalem (Craig Keener, IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament [Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2014], 185)!
• Think about that: we're told that the first people to whom God announced the birth of the Messiah were those who could not enter the temple and worship God!
• The Mishnah (a transcription of Jewish oral tradition, authoritative for Jewish life) includes some unkind passages about shepherds.