Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE ANNOUNCEMENT”

Luke 2.10-12

 

This morning my primary intent was to focus your attention on the startling appearance of the Shekinah glory to the shepherds six centuries after the glory departed from Solomon’s Temple. The meaning to be associated with the presence of the glory of God was to draw attention to the presence of God, Who had arrived on the scene by means of the virgin birth in Bethlehem. Thus, when Jesus was born, the Shekinah glory of God appeared to give evidence that in a real and substantial way God had come on the scene again. Does that tell you anything about the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ?

This evening we will concentrate our attention on the explanation given to those honored shepherds by the angel who appeared with God’s glory.

Turn in your Bible to Luke 2.4, and stand with me for the reading of God’s Word:

 

4      And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

5      To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

6      And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7      And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8      And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9      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.

10     And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11     For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12     And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13     And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14     Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

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.

 

Consider the words of this unnamed angel in verses 10-12:

 

First, HE TELLS THE SHEPHERDS, “FEAR NOT”

 

Do not confuse this “angel of the Lord” with “the angel of the LORD” referred to in the Old Testament. This angel has come from the presence of the Lord, while the Old Testament figure identified as the angel of the LORD is invariably the pre-incarnate Christ. What we have in our text, then, is a created being, and may very well have been the same angel who appeared to Zecharias, the father of John the Baptist, or the angel Gabriel who appeared and spoke to Mary.

Why does this angel instruct the shepherds to “fear not”? They were afraid. Keep in mind that these were Jewish men who were very familiar with the Bible. Therefore, not only were they very understandably startled by this supernatural event, but they were terrified by the realization that this was, indeed, the Shekinah glory that had appeared. Their minds, no doubt, recalled the words of Exodus 33.20, where God said to Moses, “There shall no man see me and live.” Therefore, they were appropriately terrified by God’s glory, just as Peter, James, and John were scared when the Shekinah appeared and overshadowed them at Christ’s transfiguration, in Luke 9.34.

Thus, to calm them from their first impression of fright and dread, and to persuade them that he had not come as a minister of death but to announce life to all people, he commanded them, “Fear not.”

 

Next, HE MAKES A PRONOUNCEMENT

 

Read verses 10 and 11 with me again, so you will see why the shepherds should not be afraid:

 

10     And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11     For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

 

Is it not interesting to note that, so far in the gospel record of the incarnation of the Son of God, in which the Creator personally steps into His creation by means of the virgin birth, He has announced His intentions by using angels to appear, first, to a godly old priest named Zacharias, to a young virgin named Mary, to her betrothed husband Joseph in a dream, and now to shepherds. As I pointed out to you this morning, let me emphasize once more that God seemed to have had no interest in giving notice to the apparently important people of society, to the powerful men of the culture, to the wielders of influence, to the insiders. He made His announcements to, and He made use of, ordinary men and women. There is significance in that which should not be overlooked.

Verse 10: “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” The first half of this announcement is a declaration of good news that will produce great joy. What a relief that must have been to the shepherds, causing their fright to quickly turn to eager anticipation. Whatever the good news is, the angel assured his audience that it “shall be to all people.” However, what is to be understood by the angel’s reference “to all people”? Does this refer to everyone on earth, or should this announcement be understood in a more limited sense? Let me suggest that as the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ unfolds it will be understood that the gospel is good news for the entirety of humanity. However, at this time, speaking to those Jewish shepherds, in the context of the Shekinah glory having appeared for the first time in six centuries to God’s covenant people, I think we are safe in saying that the angel’s reference “to all people” is almost certainly a reference to all of the children of Israel, to all the people who have groaned under the weight of oppression while waiting for their promised Messiah. The next statement the angel makes supports this view pretty strongly.

Verse 11: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” The angel announces someone’s birth. How could a birth be so important as to merit the announcement of an angel? It would merit the announcement of an angel if it was a birth that had been predicted by angels (such as when the angel spoke to Mary and Joseph), or if it was a birth that fulfilled numerous centuries-old Old Testament prophecies. Whose birth did the angel announce, that he was so sure would be a reason for rejoicing? The birth took place in the city of David, the small village of Bethlehem, associated with a king who had lived a thousand years earlier. That was a factoid that no one but a Jew would deem significant. However, notice what else the angel says: “. . . a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” The combination of titles present here is unique. Savior, Christ, and Lord do not appear together in any other NT text.[1] Savior describes a deliverer from enemies, or one who rescues from peril, in both the physical and spiritual senses. This One born in Bethlehem is God’s deliverer for God’s people. Christ and Lord appear together without the definite article “the.” Therefore, the phrase could have any number of meanings, from “Messiah, Lord,” to “Anointed Lord,” to “the Messiah, the Lord,” or “an anointed one, a lord.” The most natural is literally “a Savior, which is Messiah, Lord.”[2] What an astonishing thing for this angel to say to those men. There was born this afternoon in Bethlehem, a Savior, which is the Messiah Lord. Keep in mind that the Greek word translated “lord” is the word that translates the Hebrew name of God, Jehovah, into the Greek language. What mouth full of important Bible titles and names this angel utters. The Shekinah glory of God appears to them one chilly night. Simultaneously, an angel is standing before them. They, naturally, are terrified. However, the angel tells them not to be afraid, because he has great news for them, and for everyone else as well. In the city of Bethlehem there has been born a savior, Messiah Jehovah. The shepherds must have stood before the angel in a complete state of shock. Mouths opened, eyes staring, forgetting for a moment to even breathe, they have just been poll axed with words. What are they expected to make of the words just spoken to them?

 

UNDERSTANDABLY, THE ANGEL OFFERS THEM PROOF

 

Verse 12: “And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

Contrary to the antichristian propaganda that floods the airwaves and media, God has no desire for anyone to accept anything as true by what some would term “blind faith.” “Blind faith” is not faith at all, by any Biblical measure of the concept. You see, “faith is the substance of things hope for, the evidence of things not seen,” Hebrews 11.1. Rightly understood, then, faith is a right conclusion drawn from circumstantial evidence, not some stupid conclusion jumped to by some naive fool. Recognize that God wants people’s minds to be fully engaged, and capable of intelligent thought. Therefore, this notion that faith can be exercised without real thought and deliberation is a nonbiblical and nonChristian notion. One example before we deal with verse 12: Revelation 1.1 reads: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John.” Let me read to you from my own commentary on the Revelation regarding this word “signified” in Revelation 1.1:

 

This word, deiknumi, means to exhibit something that can be apprehended by one or more of the senses, point out, show, make known.[3] It refers to indicating or showing something by a sign. It translates the particular word the Greeks used to refer to communication from the gods to men. It was this same word that John used when he wrote First John 4.1, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” However it was done, you can be sure that it had to be proven to John that the message he received was from God. He was not about to naively or eagerly walk into some trap set by Satan, as do so many today who say that they have received a special message from God.

 

Back to verse 12. This angel is not expecting the shepherds to blindly accept what he claims to be true, though the miracle of the Shekinah’s appearance, that same angel’s sudden appearance, and the angelic choir which will appear, are quite persuasive. He additionally gives the men a sign to verify the accuracy of what he has just told them.

What is the sign? “Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” How, pray tell, is this a sign?

Both the attire of the Baby and the place where He could be found were to be signs to the shepherds. One would expect to find a baby of royal parentage in a palace. Such a baby normally is wrapped in luxurious garments and surrounded by every comfort and convenience. Signs of wealth and station are everywhere evident. But such was not the case with this Baby. He was in a manger. No royal garments clothed His body; rather, he was wrapped in strips of cloth. This baby had the appearance of being prepared for burial. How fitting that He should be so seen from the time of His birth, since He truly had been appointed to death![4]

 

Does it tell you something about the certainty of Christ’s birth, that it should take place in Bethlehem of all places, without any fanfare or publicity, without making the mobs and the power brokers aware of what was happening, but announcing His birth by means of lowly shepherds? Not that anyone should hold shepherds in low esteem. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were shepherds. David was a shepherd. Pastors are referred to as shepherds, and God’s people are referred to as sheep. So, even though the high and mighty of Jerusalem held simple shepherds in low esteem, do not for a second think such an occupation was looked down upon by God.

The point that I seek to make is that God was unconcerned about convincing the powerful. He was unconcerned about persuading the elites of society. However, notice the length He went to that ordinary men might be convinced that His Son was born in Bethlehem. He manifested His presence by means of the Shekinah glory. He dispatched an angel with an important message. He sent His heavenly choir. However, that was not enough. To make sure those shepherds had enough on which to hang their faith, He arranged for them to see a sign.

The sign was the Christ child Himself, in a manger of all places, wrapped in swaddling clothes of all things. Sometime later men would arrive from east, Magi, who would give to the Lord Jesus Christ gold, frankincense, and myrrh. However, for now, Joseph and Mary, impoverished as they were, could give the Christ child no more than rags and a manger.

However, that was the sign those men were given, and that sign was sufficient. Once they had seen the sign for themselves, the men who were honored to be the first who were told after Christ’s birth, were also honored to be the first who went to tell after Christ’s birth.

I remember what was certainly my first exposure to gospel truth when, as a first grader, I participated in a school Christmas play as a narrating angel. I remember my first grade teacher, Miss Daggs, as she coached me to memorize, to enunciate, and to be loud. However, I was so caught up in myself that the words had no apparent affect on me at the time. It was about six months later, as nearly as you can tell about experiences that happened so long ago when you were a child, that Miss Peabody and Miss Rupp taught the vacation Bible school that I attended, in which John 1.29 was strongly emphasized: “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”

If I remember my chronology correctly, my conversion to Christ took place about sixteen years after those events occurred. I make mention of my own conversion for two reasons: First, to point out that my own conversion came as a result of Miss Daggs, Miss Peabody, Miss Rupp, and others faithfully telling others, just like the shepherds did once they were convinced. Second, to point out that my own turn has come to tell others, just like the shepherds.

If you were here this evening and you remain unconverted, keep in mind that God established the truth surrounding the birth into this world of His Son in profoundly convincing fashion. He has proven beyond any reasonable doubt what happened on that Christmas Day so long ago. The reason He does not prove it all over again to you is because He did it right the first time, and because you are not important enough to merit that kind of attention. If a 2000-year-old proof is good enough for the rest of us it will have to be good enough for you. Just know that the evidence is there, the evidence is convincing, and the evidence is persuasive to those who want to know the truth. I will be here to talk to you after the service.

If you are here this evening and you are converted to Christ, be mindful that nothing much has changed insofar as the responsibility to tell others is concerned. What the shepherds knew to do you and I know to do. Therefore, what the shepherds did you and I need to do. Go tell people the great news. We still have a week to persuade folks to come to the church house to hear the Christmas cantata, so let each of us get it done this week. Amen?



[1] Darrell L. Bock, Luke Volume 1: 1:1-9:50, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1994), page 216.

[2] Ibid., page 217.

[3] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), page 214.

[4] J. Dwight Pentecost, The Words & Works Of Jesus Christ, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), pages 61-62.

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org