Savior, Advent Sermon, Luke 2:11

“Savior,” Luke 2:11

Speaking of course of Jesus, the authors of “The Incarnation in the Gospels,” wrote, “The humility of his birth became the whole pattern of his life… the sufferings that commenced with his incarnation culminated with his crucifixion.”[1]

Our Savior came to shepherds and He came to shepherd us! That doesn’t sound like a big deal because we’re so used to the Shepherd motif in the New Testament. It’s embedded into our understanding of Jesus and the Christian life.

·       “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me.” (John 10:14)
·       “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)

These and similar passages speak of shepherds and shepherd in a positive light, connecting the shepherding motif to Jesus. This is, of course, a good thing but here’s what you need to see in order to see the deepest beauty of Luke 2:11.

A real angel, a messenger of God, appeared to actual shepherds on the evening God the Son was born. In those days no one would have thought an angel would appear the shepherds in a field. I suspect our images of those shepherds have been largely shaped by Christmas pageants, plays, and shining nativity sets.

“In those days shepherds would seldom be found praising and worshipping God; as a result they were looked upon as anything but worshippers. Their reputation was lowly at best, and religious people snubbed and ignored them. They were despised because they were unable to attend services and to keep the ceremonial laws of washing and cleansing. Their flocks just kept them too busy. What a beautiful foretaste of the salvation to come: God gave the first message of His Son to common shepherds, those looked upon as sinners.[2] [.. LIKE US…]

God always comes to the unlikely in unlikely ways at unexpected times
The angel appeared to the lowly shepherds in the full spender of God.
The other night I went to Dollar Tree dressed in shorts, a Pistons cap, untied work boots, dress socks at dollar tree. I started talking to someone in line and she says, “Well at least you didn’t waste a good outfit on a late night Dollar Tree run!”

We tend to put on our best clothing don’t we, for something nice. We dress up for people we want to impress. Listen, God sent an angel clothed in all the radiance of heaven to lowly shepherds in a dirt and rough grass rocky field to announce the coming of the savior of sinners! He who came to us lowly didn’t spare His best!

The angel came clothed in the Shekina, or real presence of God, glory. The word Shekina isn’t found in the Bible was used by the rabbis largely in the period between the Old and New Testaments. It speaks of the emanating or real presence of God. Shekina is a “Transliteration of a Hebrew word meaning “the one who dwells” or “that which dwells.” The term enters Christian theology from its use in the Targums and rabbinic literature to describe the immanent presence in the world of the transcendent Deity.”[3] [A light, a difference, prayer, sense it]

“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:9-11 ESV) He came in glorious humility!

“The angel's message was one of reassurance and good news. He proclaimed the Messiah's birth and charged the shepherds to visit the child. He gave them a sign: they would find the babe lying in a manger.”[4] The Good Shepherd came to shepherds, lowly people in their society, in a manger, to rescue us. The King of Kings came humbly to rescue us from our humiliation and sin. The Jesus Paradox.  

“They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31-32) Here’s what I want you to see. Jesus came to be the Great Shepherd to all the lost sheep. He came to make the way for peace with God and ultimately peace in the world! 
The Church Father Origen wrote, “After the Lord came to the earth, “He established peace through the blood of his cross, both for those upon the earth and those who are in heaven.” And the angels wanted people to remember their Creator. They had done everything in their power to cure them, but they were unwilling to be cured. Then the angels behold him who could effect a cure. They give glory and say, “Glory to God on high, and peace on earth.”[5]

Michael Card, the Christian musician and Old Testament scholar wrote this in his commentary on Luke, “Then it is as if heaven can no longer contain itself, and the sky erupts. The theme of the angel’s brief song? Glory in heaven and peace on earth. When the Shepherds look for and find the wrapped-up baby in the trough, they tell everyone who will listen to them. Luke reminds us that they are all “amazed.” How else is one supposed to respond to such a message?”[6]

I stand amazed at the message the Angel told the Shepherds. That baby over there is the Messiah. He will bring peace for men with God. He will be the savior.

Today is Worldwide Candle Lighting Day. For hundreds of years, lighting a candle has been a way to show respect for those that have died. This beautiful gesture shows that although someone may be gone from this world, their memory will endure, and the light of their flame will continue to inspire and guide others. Worldwide Candle Lighting Day is a celebration of solidarity and memory. It’s a day on which people around the world gather to light candles for children who have died and to show that they will always be loved and never forgotten. The candles are lit at the same time in every time zone, meaning that a consistent warm glow passes around the planet for a full 24-hour day. (Tonight 7 pm)

We have a savior who came to shepherds, social outcasts, who comes to sinners, who comes suffers the little children to come unto him. Our brother Bill has come home. Children who die do so in a state of innocence and grace; having received an imputed sin nature from Adam but having committed no volitional willful rebellious sinful act. Jesus receives them as He does us, because of immeasurable grace. We have a good shepherd, a savior. Today I light this candle for all who have every lost a child and to be the Light of the World – our Savior! Amen.

[1] Daniel Doriani, Philip Ryken, Richard Phillips, The Incarnation in the Gospels, (P&R Publishing, Grand Rapids), 102.
[2] The Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible, Leadership Ministries Worldwide.  
[3] Elwell, Walter A., and Philip Wesley Comfort. Tyndale Bible Dictionary. Tyndale Reference Library. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001.
[4] POSB.
[5] Homilies on the Gospel of Luke 12.2., Ancient Christian Commentary, Luke 2:11.
[6] Michael Card, Luke: The Gospel of Amazement, (Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL), 48.