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Monday, May 20, 2019

The Shepherds and the Magi – Luke 2:8-20; Matthew 2:1-12 -- Part 1

       Only One who knew the height and depth of the Father’s love could reveal it. So, God sent the Word/Jesus to earth to share God’s love, grace and truth. Jesus left the place of no limitation to come to earth which is limited. He was further limited by being confined in a womb and placed under the Law to fulfill it and release humans from its penalty of death for disobeying one part of the Law. He came as an infant who had to rely upon others to feed and care for Him both physically and spiritually. Jesus gave up His glory in heaven to become human, suffer and die for the sins of the whole world. There is no greater love than this. While on earth, Jesus’ glory, splendor and beauty were hidden. He had no outward appearance that would draw people to Him. Jesus wanted people to recognize Him through His Word and His miracles. He still wants people to recognize Him this way.
            God will work out His plan of salvation and redemption. The Word/Jesus became flesh in the womb of the virgin Mary. God sent an angel to Zechariah to tell him that he would have a son who would announce the coming of Jesus and prepare God’s people to meet Him. God also used the decree of Caesar Augustus to get Mary to Bethlehem by decreeing that a censor be taken of every family in their hometown. The census was so the Romans could collect taxes from everyone. No worry! God is in control.
Mary was a descendant of David, and Bethlehem was David’s town. The prophet Micah had prophesied that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. (see Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:6) In the darkness of night, Joseph and Mary could only find rest in a stable where animals are sheltered from worldly elements. Jesus was born in a stable for animals and laid in a feeding trough for the animals. As the Word of God brought to life, Jesus would become the feeding trough for sinners! He came to earth to save and be our feeding trough of Divine Truth that feeds us spiritually. Our flesh is beastly to the Lord who is holy! Jesus will be our shelter from the storms of life. Our rest and peace from spiritual darkness is in Him.

God’s Angel Appears to the Shepherds – Luke 2:8-20
          These shepherds are Jewish. They were in the fields of Bethlehem near the place where Jesus was born. God had given this territory to the tribe of Judah. Where David, the Jew from the tribe of Judah, had cared for and protected his father’s flock, the shepherds were keeping their watch in the night to protect their flocks. Some of these lambs would be used for sacrifice to God in the temple. Jesus, the sacrificial Lamb of God, keeps watch over His sheep and protects them from the spiritual enemy of their souls. We are the sheep of His pasture.
            An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory o f the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. Luke 2:9-10  When the Angel of the Lord appeared, the glory of the Lord was all around the shepherds which terrified them. This Angel reflected the light and glory of God. The angel of the Lord told them not to be afraid. This is a term Jesus spoke many times to His disciples to assure them that He was with them, so they had nothing to fear. Jesus is the light and glory of God. His glory and light were hidden within His flesh body while on earth. Only once, on the Mount of Transfiguration, did Jesus reveal His hidden inner glory to His disciples. As we walk as Jesus tells us, His glory and light will shine forth through our flesh body to others.
The angel of the Lord brought “good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.” V11 This is the fulfillment of Micah’s prophecy in 5:2. In this scripture in Luke, Jesus is called the Savior. As Savior, He will deliver us from sin and Satan’s domain. He is not only our Savior, but also Christ the Lord who rules over His people. No one can have Jesus as Savior without submitting to His Lordship. He came to save us from sin. The way to do this is through letting Him be Lord over our lives and remove sin in us by the power of His Holy Spirit and Word. Our “self” must be dethroned, and our pride humbled to know the glory and life of God’s spiritual kingdom. By dethroning our fleshly ways, we will rise higher with Jesus and radiate His glory and light to a lost and spiritually dying world.
            Next, the angel gives the shepherds a sign. “You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” V12  The greatest event in the history of the world took place in a stable in the humblest and simplest circumstances.
            Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.” Vv 13-14  This heavenly host gave glory to God for the great thing He had done. When the angels had gone, 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.” V15  When they saw  baby Jesus in the manger, they told others what the angel had told them about this baby, “and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. And they returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” V20 They gave God the glory for the great thing He had done.
            God who loves all of humanity will reveal the good news of His Son Jesus to both Jews and Gentiles, as He revealed Jesus to both the Jewish shepherds and the Gentile Magi. All are included in God’s redemptive plan through His Son Jesus Christ.

                           ( Next week: The gentile Magi)

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