Luke 2:8-14 is a familiar passage to many of us, not only in the church but in the culture at large. The angels’ announcement of Christ’s birth to the shepherds represents a number of things that are worth remembering this morning.
1) God’s kingdom is upside down.
Shepherds were not much better looked upon in their day than the homeless in ours. They were not the sort you invite over for a dinner party. Dirty, smelly, always with sheep. But they get a private performance from the Heavenly Jerusalem Choir. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).
2) God’s glory is scary.
When “the glory of the Lord shone around them,” the shepherds “were filled with great fear” (v.9). In Greek, “great fear” is just the word for fear repeated twice for emphasis. In a day before emojis, the repetition points out the depth of the emotion. They weren’t just afraid. They were afraid afraid.
God’s glory is scary for sinful human beings. The light of His holiness shows the darkness of our hearts for what it is. The shepherds were scared.
3) The gospel kills fear.
The angels aren’t there to condemn the shepherds in their sin. They’re there to give “good news (gospel!) of great joy for everyone” (v.10). God’s holiness is bad news for sinners… unless forgiveness is available. The angels came to proclaim the redemption that had just crash landed for them in a stable nearby.
4) The gospel welcomes everyone.
You probably wouldn’t have the shepherds over for dinner; the smell of sheep may overpower the smell of the meal. But there is no favoritism in the kingdom of God (see James 1:5; 2:1-13). The shepherds get a personal, musical invitation to enter the kingdom from the Father Himself. God doesn’t have the same hangups we do about our fellow human beings. We’re all created in His image.
5) God’s kingdom is a party.
Though Christ was born in lowly circumstances, His birth was celebrated with a bigger show than Taylor Swift will ever put on. The gospel brings “great joy.” A multitude of angels shout for joy. God’s love is yours through faith in Christ. May that set your heart to singing today.