Advent #4, – “Hope for all Mankind”
In this fourth and final advent meditation, I want to share with you the fact that Christ’s birth in Bethlehem would offer hope to all the world.
We see that in a very familiar verse of scripture — John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life.”
I am particularly intrigued by the fact, that the most important news the world would ever receive was first given to a group of lowly shepherds.
History tells the story. Jesus Christ was born the Son of God, became a man and forever changed the world. If you were going to send a very important message to all mankind, you would never commit the dispensing of that message to shepherds.
It is hard for me to think that any Jewish child dreamed of one day being a shepherd. Just think about these people for a moment:
· They were nomads.
· They would not be highly educated.
· They were probably illiterate.
· By society, they would be treated as outcasts.
· They would be on the lowest rung of the social calendar.
· They would not be permitted to give testimony in a Jewish court.
· Because they were associated with caring for animals, and they worked on the Sabbath, they were viewed as unclean and would not be permitted to enter the temple.
I believe from a human point of view, they would be the last people that would be entrusted with such an important message and mission. Yet, in
1 Corinthians 1:27, we read, “But God has chosen the foolish things of this world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.”
Yet we can’t get away from the fact that some of the most influential people who ever lived, were shepherds.
Stu Epperson Jr., in his book, “First Words of Jesus” shares with us the following:
· “Abel’s lamb was the first acceptable sacrifice that was an acceptable sacrifice to God. Genesis 4:4
· Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all cared for sheep.
· Moses cared for sheep for at least forty years.
· David spent years in obscurity caring for sheep.
· Amos was a shepherd, as well.
The role of the shepherd has always been near the heart of the LORD. Ultimately all of these figures point to the Great Shepherd”.
In Hebrews 13:20-21, we read “Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Note: In John 10:11, Jesus said, “I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” That is what Jesus did for us. He gave His life on the cross to atone for our sins.
· We just saw in Hebrews 13:20-21, that Jesus Christ is the Great Shepherd, who sustains and cares for His sheep.
· In 1 Peter 5:4, we read that Jesus Christ is the Chief Shepherd who is coming for His sheep. “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.”
It is obvious that the role of the Shepherd is dear to the heart of God. It is to the lowly shepherds that the angel of the LORD came with the most important message the whole world would ever hear.
“And there were in the same country, shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo the angel of the LORD came upon them, and the glory of the LORD shone around them and they were sore afraid.”
We just read that the shepherds were terrified, but the angel told them they did not have to be afraid because the message they were about to hear was one of good news and hope.
“Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the LORD. And this will be a sign to you. You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men.!’”
In Luke 2:15-20, we read of several things that took place:
1. The shepherds hurried to the city and they found the Christ child just as was promised.
2. They left that scene and broadcast widely the news about the new-born King.
3. People marveled at the news the shepherds shared.
4. Mary pondered all of the factors in her heart.
5. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen.
Folks, advent offers to all mankind a message of hope. That message of the birth of the Savior was offered the lowly, the least, and to the highest people on the rung of the ladder.
Our Savior came, just as was promised and He is coming again just as was promised.
Let the love, peace and joy He offers fill your hearts each and every day. May His kingdom be carried out through our lives, just as it is in heaven.
Glory to God in the highest!