Luke 2:15-20Authorized (King James) Version
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
Two words which best describes the actual day before, the true day of, and the beginning of the night infant Lord Jesus was born – extraordinarily ordinary.
The sky was extraordinarily ordinary.
An occasional, ordinary gust of stirred the leaves and chilled the air.
The stars were sparkling like diamonds sparkling on ordinary black velvet.
Fleets of ordinary clouds floated in front of the moon.
It was a beautiful night – a night worth peeking out of your bedroom window to admire – but not necessarily an unusual or an extraordinary one as it all began.
No reason for anyone to expect an extraordinary surprise.
Nothing out of the ordinary as this night began designed to keep you awake.
An ordinary night with an ordinary sky.
The sheep were ordinary too.
Some with barrel bellies.
Some with twig legs.
Common everyday ordinary animals probably owned by ordinary people.
No fleece made of gold.
No history makers.
No blue-ribbon winners.
They were simply ordinary sheep – sleeping silhouettes on an ordinary hillside.
And the shepherds?
Ordinary peasants they were.
Ancestors of today’s Bedouin.
Wearing all the ordinary clothes they ordinarily owned.
Ordinarily smelling like the ordinary sheep and looking just as woolly.
True they were conscientious, and hardy as well, to spend every night outside guarding their ordinary flocks.
But you won’t ordinarily find their staffs in a museum.
You won’t ordinarily find their writings in a library.
No one asked for their extraordinary opinion on social justice or meaning of the Torah – after all – they were exactly this: anonymous, simple, ordinary people.
An ordinary night with ordinary sheep and ordinary shepherds.
And were it not for the extraordinary God who delights in transforming the ordinary, the night would have ordinarily gone unnoticed and unrecorded.
No breaking news event expected here for the first Jerusalem Press- the sheep would have been forgotten, the shepherds would have slept the night away.
Except an extraordinary God, lost in the ordinary, dances amidst the common.
The black star lit sky suddenly exploded with an extraordinary brightness.
Ordinary rocks and trees previously hidden in shadow jumped into clarity.
Sheep that had just a few moments before been ordinary and silent became a extraordinary chorus of extraordinary curiosity.
One minute, these ordinary shepherds were fast asleep, the next they were rubbing their eyes, staring into the face of an extraordinary angel of the Lord.
This ordinary night was ordinary no more.
It was indescribably extraordinary ….
The angels came in the night because that is when light is best seen and when light is most needed.
An extraordinary God transforms the ordinary for the same reason.
That’s also probably why the announcement came first to the shepherds.
They did not ask God if he was sure he knew what he was doing.
Had the angel first gone to the scribes, the leading theologians of the times, they’d have first run headlong into committee consulted their commentaries.
Had the shepherds first gone to their local politicians, they would have looked around to see if anyone was watching, finding none – gone back to “so what?”
Had he gone to the influential and powerful they’d have checked their sundials.
Our extraordinary God went straight to the ordinary fields, ordinary shepherds.
People whose testimony ordinarily did not count in a law court.
People who did not have a reputation to protect, or an ax to grind, or a ladder to climb, or an opinion to express, or a sword to swing.
Three simple observations we can make from this story.
Three observations about how the Lord brought glory to the ordinary, when he brought heaven to earth.
Three ordinary observations about how the extraordinary Lord ordinarily longs to work in and through an extraordinarily ordinary you and extraordinarily me.
1. The Shepherds Searched for Jesus
“the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby.” (Luke 2:15-16)
The shepherds were probably several miles away from Bethlehem in the Judean wilderness.
Their ordinary curiosity was extraordinarily peaked – they obeyed the angel.
They went looking for the infant Jesus, in the dark, leaving their flocks behind.
The word ‘found’ in verse 16 means ‘found after a search’.
It must have taken some considerable time to find Mary and Joseph and the baby.
They searched and they searched and searched until they finally found Jesus.
They heard the Word of God and they obeyed.
They wanted to see whether what they had been told was true.
It took an extraordinary amount of time and effort to find Jesus, but boy was the extraordinary effort they made ever much worth it for generations of believers.
In this respect, the ordinary shepherds are extraordinary role models.
Let me ask, have you (lately) extraordinarily searched for Jesus – personally?
Let me ask, How extraordinarily desperate are you to extraordinarily find Him, to extraordinarily know Him, and to be with Him extraordinarily?
“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3).
It is extraordinarily important that we search the scriptures for ourselves.
The three most extraordinarily important questions we will ever ask are these:
1. Who is Jesus?
2. Why did Jesus come?
3. What does it mean to follow him?
A secondhand faith based on what our parents or family believe will not be strong enough to withstand the storms of life.
A secondhand faith will not ordinarily save us.
We must each develop extraordinarily deep personal convictions based on the historical facts. Based on the extraordinary eyewitness testimony of those who first encountered Jesus. They extraordinarily searched for Jesus. We must too.
- The Shepherds Shared News of Jesus
“When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.” (Luke 2:17-18)
Perhaps because they had no fixed address, like Bedouin today, shepherds could not testify in court.
How extraordinarily Ironic therefore that God choose these shepherds to be the first human witnesses to tell others that prophecy had been fulfilled, that God’s extraordinary angels had appeared and that the Messiah had finally been born.
And they didn’t need to go on an evangelism course first.
Their extraordinary testimony was extraordinarily spontaneous.
The ordinary shepherds spoke from the heart and their extraordinary words extraordinarily connected with generations of the deepest needs of others.
When you hear extraordinarily exciting news, it’s hard not to share it isn’t it?
You don’t think about your ordinary self or the ordinary words to say – you are simply consumed by the extraordinarily good news and you cannot keep it in.
When a baby is born in the family, you can’t stop talking about your child or grandchild, you can’t resist pulling out the photos, can you?
It brings an extraordinary smile to your face, a skip to your walk, and you find your ordinary self sharing with anyone, even strangers, who will stop to listen.
The more extraordinarily exciting, the more extraordinarily amazing the news, the greater the extraordinary eagerness to extraordinarily share.
The gospel is the greatest news on earth.
If we ordinarily feel reluctant or embarrassed to share it, perhaps we have not really understood what “extraordinary” Jesus has extraordinarily done for us.
The more extraordinary time we spend with Jesus the more extraordinarily infectious we become.
We are His extraordinarily extraordinary ordinary witnesses exactly right now!
These ordinary shepherds extraordinarily searched for our extraordinary Jesus.
After an extraordinary discovery – The shepherds shared news of Jesus.
- The ordinary Shepherds extraordinarily Praised God because of Jesus
“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” (Luke 2:20)
Worship is simply our high praising our extraordinarily extraordinary God for exactly who he is and our giving our extraordinary thanks for what he has done.
That is why worship and evangelism flow from the same heart attitude.
The more we extraordinarily understand what our extraordinary God in Jesus has extraordinarily done for us, the more we will praise him and thank him.
Perhaps that is why some of the most extraordinarily beautiful and memorable Christian hymns are actually Christmas Carols.
Perhaps that is why at this time of year they are even extraordinarily played on TV and radio stations, in shopping centers, even in elevators and Dental offices.
If our ordinary hearts have been extraordinarily warmed in the fire of God’s love, how can we not extraordinarily sing in spontaneous thanks and praise?
The ordinary shepherds extraordinarily searched for an extraordinary Jesus.
And extraordinarily, when they found Jesus, the shepherds extraordinarily praised God for Jesus and shared the news of Jesus with all who would listen, “and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them”.
Maybe you feel rather ordinary yourself today.
Behind the ordinary festivities, maybe you secretly feel rather self conscious, insecure, unsure how you would respond to such a visitation from angels.
Then remember our extraordinarily extraordinary God delights in the ordinary.
Today, a small unassuming church building marks the birthplace of Jesus in Bethlehem.
It is the oldest church in the world.
Underneath the altar is a cave, a little cavern lit by silver lamps.
Crusader crosses are etched into the marble pillars, witness to countless generations of ordinary “shepherds” and ordinary pilgrims.
Unlike many of our Cathedrals, you can freely enter the building and admire this ancient church.
You can even step down into the quiet cave where a star embedded in the floor denotes the place where the Savior of the world was probably born.
But there is one condition, one requirement, one stipulation.
You have to stoop.
The entrance to the church is so low only a child can enter standing up.
A most profound an extraordinary parable.
To view the place where Christ was born, we must humble ourselves.
We must bow to enter his presence.
On our ordinary TV screens and in our ordinary newspapers, we see the world standing tall, ordinarily the taller, ordinarily the more impressive, but to bear witness to our extraordinarily extraordinary Savior, you get on your knees.
On your ordinary knees.
So… While the ordinary theologians were ordinarily sleeping,
While the ordinary elite were dreaming and while the successful were snoring, the extraordinarily extraordinary ordinary meek were ordinarily kneeling.
They were ordinarily kneeling before the extraordinarily extraordinary One only the extraordinarily, extraordinary, ordinarily meek will ever truly see.
Extraordinarily, ordinary shepherds were extraordinarily kneeling before Jesus.
They were the first to worship and they were the first to share the good news.
“When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them… glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen” (Luke 2:17-18, 20)
May our extraordinary God extraordinarily bless you and may the extraordinary infant, Emmanuel, God extraordinarily with us, extraordinarily keep all of you.
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
An Ode to Extraordinary Joy ….
1 Praise ye the Lord.
Praise God in his sanctuary:
praise him in the firmament of his power.
2 Praise him for his mighty acts:
praise him according to his excellent greatness.
3 Praise him with the sound of the trumpet:
praise him with the psaltery and harp.
4 Praise him with the timbrel and dance:
praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
5 Praise him upon the loud cymbals:
praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
6 Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord.
Praise ye the Lord.