1 When Sarah was 127 years old, 2 she died at Kiriath-arba (now called Hebron) in the land of Canaan. There Abraham mourned and wept for her.
3 Then, leaving her body, he said to the Hittite elders, 4 “Here I am, a stranger and a foreigner among you. Please sell me a piece of land so I can give my wife a proper burial.”
5 The Hittites replied to Abraham, 6 “Listen, my lord, you are an honored prince among us. Choose the finest of our tombs and bury her there. No one here will refuse to help you in this way.”
7 Then Abraham bowed low before the Hittites 8 and said, “Since you are willing to help me in this way, be so kind as to ask Ephron son of Zohar 9 to let me buy his cave at Machpelah, down at the end of his field. I will pay the full price in the presence of witnesses, so I will have a permanent burial place for my family.”
10 Ephron was sitting there among the others, and he answered Abraham as the others listened, speaking publicly before all the Hittite elders of the town. 11 “No, my lord,” he said to Abraham, “please listen to me. I will give you the field and the cave. Here in the presence of my people, I give it to you. Go and bury your dead.”
12 Abraham again bowed low before the citizens of the land, 13 and he replied to Ephron as everyone listened. “No, listen to me. I will buy it from you. Let me pay the full price for the field so I can bury my dead there.”
14 Ephron answered Abraham, 15 “My lord, please listen to me. The land is worth 400 pieces of silver, but what is that between friends? Go ahead and bury your dead.”
16 So Abraham agreed to Ephron’s price and paid the amount he had suggested—400 pieces of silver, weighed according to the market standard. The Hittite elders witnessed the transaction.
17 So Abraham bought the plot of land belonging to Ephron at Machpelah, near Mamre. This included the field itself, the cave that was in it, and all the surrounding trees. 18 It was transferred to Abraham as his permanent possession in the presence of the Hittite elders at the city gate. 19 Then Abraham buried his wife, Sarah, there in Canaan, in the cave of Machpelah, near Mamre (also called Hebron). 20 So the field and the cave were transferred from the Hittites to Abraham for use as a permanent burial place.
Acts 5:29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men…”
There are times that I get arguments that the verse above gives us liscence to not obey the government (usually around April when it’s time to pay taxes). Of course, for some, I suspect that their motives has nothing to do with obeying God either. Nevertheless, it needs addressing.
Let’s start with a clear statement of the Lord’s will.
Romans 13:1-7 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
Now, I understand that this is a hard pill to swallow especially in these problematic times when people feel betrayed by those in government. For myself, I take comfort in the words of Jesus when he said, “The truth will set me free.” And the truth is, all human beings make mistakes including those in government. So, I tend to be forgiving. Why? Well, my take on Romans 13:1-7 is that I give much credence to those in office because I trust God and leave the outcomes to Him.
1 Peter 2:13-17 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.
How about the Apostle Peter’s statement above, ‘We must obey God rather than men’?
Let us look at the context of Acts 5
12 At the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all together in Solomon’s portico…
16 The people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together as well, bringing people who were sick or tormented with unclean spirits, and they were all being healed.
17-18 But the high priest stood up, along with all his associates (that is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy. They laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public prison.
19-20 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison, and leading them out, he said, “Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple area the whole message of this Life.”
21 Upon hearing this, they entered into the temple area about daybreak and began to teach. Now when the high priest and his associates came, they called the Council together, that is, all the Senate of the sons of Israel, and sent orders to the prison for them to be brought. 22 But the officers who came did not find them in the prison… 25 …someone came and reported to them, “The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple area and teaching the people!” 26 Then the captain went along with the officers and proceeded to bring them back without violence (for they were afraid of the people, that they might be stoned).
27-28 When they had brought them, they had them stand before the Council. The high priest interrogated them, saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this Man’s blood upon us.”
29-32 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
Every Christian will stand on a crossroad where they will have to choose between obeying God or the government that want you go against God’s will. I pray that we choose right regardless the circumstances.
As Christians, what sign can you look for to see if you’re on the right path?
To answer this, ask yourselves, how does the world treat you right now?
Jesus illustrated that if we are to follow Him, we must walk the path that the world would not take. The world would always take the wide and easy route, but that way leads to destruction. The path that Christians should take is narrow and difficult. [Matthew 7:13-14] It is the same path that Jesus took himself and it led to the cross. What point am I trying to make?
John 15:19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.
The verse above is a gauge that will show you whether you’re on the right path.
Before we go on, let me say that I am NOT saying nor implying that Christians should outright declare war with the world. On the contrary, reach out to the world as witnesses of Christ, but do not be too surprise if people reject you and even persecute you.
1 John 3:13 Do not be surprised… that the world hates you.
2 Timothy 3:12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…
Take heart, though, when you walk this part, you are in fine company.
John 15:18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”
By the way, blessings are found on this path.
Luke 6:22 Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!
Matthew 5:10-12 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.
1 Peter 4:13-14 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
I really hope we can have a conversation. Please contact me here at Facebook MESSENGER by audio from 3-5pm Monday to Friday. Scheduled small group chats can be organized as well. Or send me a message HERE.
In the first letter of John chapter 1 verse 9, we are asked to confess our sins to the Lord. There is a purpose for this. So, that we can be cleansed from all unrighteousness. Cleanliness for us mean true freedom and we become an even better instrument for the Lord’s purpose in this world.
But because of our sinful nature which will continue to encrouch into our Christian lives in this world, we will falter in sin. Thank the Lord for 1st John 1:9. However, we all have succumbed in the miry sludge of sin to a point that we don’t exactly confess everything. And we need to truthfullly confess everything. Why? Imagine you are running in a race, but you fall into a deep hole filled with wet cement. You rinsed yourself but not thoroughly. Even just a little of that cement hardenning where it would cause chaffing, could cost you the race.
Hebrews 12:1 …let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…
Some sins are not so easy to shed like pride, for instance. In my observation, the sin of PRIDE is the sneakiest one among Christians. Like worms burrowing in skin, pride can easily get in through our egos and delve deep. But that is not the worst part. I have both heard of and known those people who are so visibly and undeniably prideful but yet seem to be unaware of it. Well, whether they know it or not, this sin is both damaging and hardest to get rid of… by themselves.
What is impossible for man, though… is possible for God.
Do you desire to be truly free? Then, before you confess, ask the Lord for help. Pray these words and mean it.
Psalm 139:23,24 Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.
We come to the hardest part of the Christmas story. It is rarely told around the Christmas tree for it depicted a dark event. But I believe it should be told, the reason for which I will explain later.
So, let us take a closer look at Herod the Great.
Though Herod was king of Judea, he was not a Jew. He was actually a puppet-king of Rome. Herod was not loved by the Jews but he gained their grudging respect mostly because he rennovated their Temple. One other thing about him was that he was extremely power hungry and not willing to share it. So, when the Magi from the east came looking for the new King of the Jews, the despot in him wanted Jesus dead and he’ll do anything to get it done.
Now, the Magi found the Christ child and we will pick-up the story from here.
Matthew 2:12,16 And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.
Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi.
This horrendous event was actually foretold.
Matthew 2:17-18 Then what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “A VOICE WAS HEARD IN RAMAH, WEEPING AND GREAT MOURNING, RACHEL WEEPING FOR HER CHILDREN; AND SHE REFUSED TO BE COMFORTED, BECAUSE THEY WERE NO MORE.”
Ramah, by the way, is the area of Bethlehem.
Anyway, what happened to Jesus?
Matthew 2:13-14 Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.” So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt.
So, let’s get back to why I believe this part of the story should be told around the Christmas tree; yes… even to little kids. How can kids and adults really appreciate the light unless they realize that darkness affect them.
What Herod did was an aftereffect of the original sin. Our history is filled with it. We are constantly surrounded by the darkness of sin.
One thing about darkness though, it cannot stand up to light. And Jesus, even as a child, escaping to Egypt is a big light piercing that darkness.
For that child grew and 33 years later, He said…
John 8:12 “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Christmas Season is over again but the light of Jesus is there. All you have to do is walk in it. How?
Matthew 2:10-11 When the Magi saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Before we talk about the gifts of the Magi, allow me to reveal that every reenactments of the nativity I’ve watched were not exactly accurate, biblically that is. Based on the Bible, when the Magi came before Jesus, he was not a baby anymore. The Greek word used for ‘Child’ here was PAIDION which means an infant between the age of 6 months and older. Clearly, upon their arrival, Joseph and Mary had upgraded their living situation from the animal pens to a house of their own. It makes sense. The census would be over by then and the population of Bethlehem would decrease back to normal. Joseph decided to stay in Bethlehem and moved his family to an available house or he built one. Afterall, he was a carpenter and mason. Either way, they were in a house.
So, when the Magi laid their eyes on the Child Jesus, they being from the eastern kingdoms of Persia, Medes and Babylon prostrated themselves before someone considered as a Great One worthy of divine worship.
If Joseph and Mary were not already surprised and a little bit perplexed, the Magi presented gifts that in all their lives they have never seen; gold, frankincense, and myrrh. From Joseph’s & Mary’s perspective, they were probably only aware of the gift’s monetary value. I wonder if they truly understood that the gifts had meaning and was intrinsically tied to Jesus’ Destiny.
Gift of GOLD
In those days, Gold had the greatest monetory value among the rare elements of the earth and was mostly given exclusively to royalty. So, was Jesus royal enough for the gift of gold?
Revelation 17:14 These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He (Jesus) is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.”
Revelation 19:16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”
Gift of FRANKINCENSE
What exactly is frankincense? It is an aromatic resin used in incense and perfumes. More importantly, it was the incense used by the priests of Israel in the Holy Temple. A few times in the year, a priest was chosen to enter ‘the Holy Place’, the biggest chamber of Israel’s Temple, to burn incense on the Altar of Incense as a way of presenting the prayers of the people to God. So, why did the Magi present frankincense?
Jesus is not just the King of kings, He is also the Priest of all priests.
Zechariah 6:13 Yes, it is He who will build the temple of the Lord, and He who will bear the honor and sit and rule on His throne. Thus, He will be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace will be between the two offices.”’
Hebrews 5:6 …just as He says also in another passage, “You (Jesus) are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”
Melchizedek was the ancient king and high priest of Salem during Abraham’s time.
Gift of MYRRH
Myrrh has been used throughout history as a perfume, incense and medicine. It’s monetory value was high, but you have to wonder what is its connection to Jesus in this context? It will be interesting to note that as Jesus was being buried after his death on the cross, his body was prepared for burial with spices and myrrh.
Was Myrrh given to honor His death?
Well, not so much his death but more to honor His sacrifice.
John 1:29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Matthew 20:28 Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son (as sacrifice), that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
The Bethlehem Star is represented in practically every Christmas decoration through out the world. Just look at most Christmas trees and you’ll find at its crown a sparkling star. In nativities, you’ll find a star above. In the Philippines, the ornamental lantern parol which can be found outside every building and house represent the star of Bethlehem.
Some say that the Bethlehem Star was a comet or a distant supernova. There are many theories. But what does the Bible say?
Matthew 2:2-10 “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”
When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: ‘AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH, ARE BY NO MEANS LEAST AMONG THE LEADERS OF JUDAH; FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL.’”
Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared.
And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.”
After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.
Let us talk about the star. Now, I will not focus on exactly what the magi saw in great detail. At the end of this article is a link to a Youtube video which I found intriguing and uplifting. I hope you would watch it after.
For this article, we will focus on the biblical aspects.
vs2 – …we saw His star in the east…
In our last post, we identified the magi as being astrologers/astronomers. When they said they saw his star in the east it is a funny statement because all stars rise on the east because of the earth’s clockwise rotation. So, what did they really see to cause them to travel to a distant foreign country?
As astronomers they would have developed a discipline of observing and plotting the stars’ relative positions. Keep in mind that the magi plotted what visible to the naked eye (because telescopes were not yet invented) and utilizing primitive tools.
The majority of the night sky were stars that were relatively stationary. Among those stationary twinkling lights are grouping of stars that form recognizable patterns. They are called constellations. Each constellation were assigned a name based on its apparent form. For example, a group of stars in the shape that looks like the head and horns of a bull with an angry red eye is the constellation Taurus.
Not all stars were stationary. The night sky also had objects that move, though at most times these objects were hardly noticeable to the common eye except for the magi and their like. I’m not talking about the moon or shooting stars. I’m talking about planets. One particular planet interested the magi at the time of Jesus’ birth. It was the planet Jupiter – the king planet.
I wish I can spend the time to tell all about what they may have observed about Jupiter and it’s movement. (Watch the video below.) What I will say is that at the time of Jesus’ birth, Jupiter rose in the east appearing at the extended paw of the great constellation Leo, the lion, which was also another symbol of king. As many nights past, the magi plotted the movements of Jupiter as it traversed up and down on Leo’s paw like it was holding something significant. To the magi, it was enough for them to scour through Scripture (I believe). And I think they would have found, at least, this biblical reference.
Genesis 49:9-10 Judah is a lion’s cub; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down; he crouched as a lion and as a lioness; who dares rouse him? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
How does this connect? If you draw a line following the plotting of Jupiter’s movements that went up and down on Leo’s paw. It would look like Leo or the Lion of Judah receiving the royal scepter. By the way, by biblical reference, Jesus, the Son of God, is ultimately the Lion of Judah.
Some may argue that the star they followed could have been a comet or something visibly spectacular. All I can say is that the Bible says otherwise.
Look at the reaction of Herod in Matthew 2:3 when the magi asked “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” (vs2).
vs3 – When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
If there was a comet or any cosmic spectacle in the night sky, Herod and his own wise men of Jerusalem would have taken heed. But instead he was quite surprised and troubled mainly more because they inquired about another King of the Jews.
What about the star that led them to Bethlehem? Did it really stop over where the child was according to verse 9? For myself, I have no problem of believing that the movement of Jupiter led them directly to the house that Jesus was in. If you watch the video below, you’ll get to watch exactly what Jupiter did to fulfill this. It is quite spectacular.
I want to pause this blog for us to take note on the rightful reaction of the magi when they saw the star.
Matthew 2:10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.
I think when we gaze into the night sky, we should consider the psalm and rejoice.
Psalm 19:1-2 The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
Again… in every Nativity movie and Christmas Pageant I have seen, the Three Kings or Wise men from the East would arrive in their lumbering camels just right after Jesus’ birth in the stable. On the golden screens, they followed a visible and very bright star on the night sky. That same star would also send down a single ray of golden sparkling light to pin point the spot of where the babe was born. The movies always made it look so magical. That’s Hollywood for you. But what does the Bible really say?
Matthew 2:1-2 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”
Of course, the obvious question should start with… Who were the magi?
In a nutshell, they were the astrologers of the time. They intensely studied the movements and relative positions of celestial objects to gain divine information which they apply into human affairs. This is clearly supported in verse 2. That is, they interpreted something in the appearance of a star or stars which compelled them to travel from a distant land in the east to Jerusalem. What compelled them? They were inspired that God himself will be there. Their impulse was to worship.
Why were they called kings?
Tradition had labeled them kings based on these passages in the book of the Prophet Isaiah.
Isaiah 60:1,3,6 “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. They will bring gold and frankincense, and will bear good news of the praises of the LORD.”
How did the Magi know that the babe was to be King of the Jews?
Some have suggested that the Prophet Daniel may be behind this. You may remember him as the one being cast into the lions’ den and God protected him (Daniel 6). During the time when Judea fell to the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, Israel were exiled to the east. That was about 500 years or so before the birth of Christ. Among the exiles were youths from among the royal family and of the nobles of Israel.
Daniel 1:3-4 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, the chief of his officials, to bring in some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal family and of the nobles, youths in whom was no defect, who were good-looking, showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge, and who had ability for serving in the king’s court; and he ordered him to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans.
Among those youths was Daniel. To make a long story short, God had made Daniel very special in the king’s eyes. Because of a mysterious dream that God placed in the mighty king’s mind and Daniel was only one who could interpreted it, King Nebuchadnezzar promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts, and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon (Daniel 2:48). (You can read the entire story in Daniel 2.)
The descendants of these wise men, the magi, had protected copies of Daniels written prophesies. It is suggested that when they saw certain signs in the stars that they scoured through his writings and by some divine inspiration they came upon the prophecies of the coming Messiah.
In the next post, we will look at the star that the magi followed.
Forty days after Jesus was born, Joseph and Mary brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord. They did that in accordance to the Law of the Lord, “EVERY firstborn MALE THAT OPENS THE WOMB SHALL BE CALLED HOLY TO THE LORD”. (Luke 2:23)
Luke 2:25-33 And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, according to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, and the glory of Your people Israel.”
And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him.
Why were they amazed?
It was not so much that Simeon foretold new things respecting the Child Jesus that they marveled; their surprise was rather that a stranger, evidently of position and learning, should possess so deep an insight into the lofty destinies of an unknown Infant, brought by evidently poor parents into the temple court. [Pulpit Commentary Biblehub.com]
Luke 2:34-35 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed— and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
Have you ever wondered why this part of the Advent story is rarely spoken around a Christmas dinner or during the early morning openings of presents? Even in every children’s production of the Christmas Pageant, there is not even a hint of it. For if you did include it, then the subject of what Simeon saw in this child would have to come up.
What did Simeon see?
He saw this holy child grow up into a man who would be rejected.
Isaiah 53:3 He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
He saw this child grow up into a man (who was without sin) die for our sins.
Isaiah 53:4-6 Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.
I can understand why parents want to leave this part out? For who wants to hear that the only reason for Jesus’ birth was that he was born to be sacrificed like a slaughtered lamb on the cross?
But the TRUTH is, without the cross His birth has no meaning and no real reason to celebrate Christmas. By the way, as a reminder, Jesus did resurrect and that is even more reason to celebrate Christmas.
Luke 2:8-9 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them…
It is the day after Christmas and my thoughts lingered on the shepherds who were priviliged to be visited by an angel and instructed to seek the babe who would be the Savior of the world. I can imagine them coming together on the hillsides after watching a cascade of fiery angels lighting up the night sky and filling them with awe. I can just see them all wanting to head into the sleepy town of Bethlehem, but then some of the older shepherds hesitated to leave their flocks alone. So, some relunctantly stayed with the promise that they will be later relieved to seek out the Christ child also. Most eagerly rushed down the darkened hillside. They split up to scoure the overcrowded town, waking up the households with new born babes. There were probably a number of irated parents that night. For the shepherds woke them up and insisted to see their new born but quickly left because they have yet to find the new born in swaddling clothes laid in a manger. Of course, they found the house where Mary gave birth inside the empty animal pens. One of them blew a ram’s horn to signal the other searchers that the right babe was found. When asked of why this large group of shepherds came asking about Mary’s new born, they made known to them the statement which had been told them about this Child. When they eventually left…
Luke 2:20 The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.
You know, shepherds were not highly thought of by the big wigs of that time. But God loves them. In the Old Testament, God favored them. Look up the stories of Abel, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who were all shepherds. One shepherd in particular was so favored by God that he became Israel’s greatest king. He contributed a fair number of songs (psalms) in the Bible one of which was about ‘The Shepherd’ of them all.
Psalm 23:1-6 (A Psalm of David) The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
I know why God sent the angel to appear to the sheherds first. You see, He desires us to be shepherds just like them. I don’t mean literal shepherds but spiritual ones.
John 10:14-15 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.
Then we should…
Acts 20:28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.
1 Peter 5:1-4 Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
As to The Shepherd who look over us…
Psalm 79:13 But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.