December 29th 2009

The Lamb Of God

“In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around about them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour who is the Messiah, the Lord.’”

Luke 2: 8-11 (NRSV) 

If we had been there in the Judean Hills on that special night we would have seen this group of shepherds who had bedded down their sheep. They were only about a mile from Bethlehem, which was called the City of David because it was where David was born and grew up. These same hills are where he looked after his father Jesse’s flock as a boy, and where he was anointed King by Samuel (1 Samuel 16: 1-13). 

These shepherds would have been well used to keeping “the watches of the night” over their flock as they had done a thousand times before. But this was no ordinary night. They would have lit a fire to protect themselves from the cold and also to deter any prowling animals that might have their hungry eyes on the sheep. These were rough men wearing the common clothes of sheep-herders, men with course hair and beards and rugged complexions. But these rough exteriors hid hearts that were made more tender by years of caring for these woolly and helpless creatures. 

It is very likely that the flock they tended was no ordinary flock but destined for sacrifices at the Temple in Jerusalem, which was a mere five miles away. As it mentions in Luke 2, the sight of these angels terrified them and I’m sure it would have scared us too. They not only got the good news about the Saviour’s birth but also a sign, and the sign was “you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth, and lying in a manger” (verse 12). In other words, this baby, even though He is Messiah will be wrapped in cloths just like your own children—but you’ll find this one in a manger! 

And indeed that’s what they found. Here, born in the City of David was another sacrificial lamb, destined for sacrifice at Jerusalem to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29). Here God became available in a manger, not in a palace or a big house. Common people can’t visit a palace but everyone can visit a manger! As Isaac Watts wrote in one of his hymns; “Joy to the world, the Lord has come; let earth receive her King!” Because of this birth the world would never be the same again. This Saviour’s birth is a message of hope for all humanity, a hope of pardon, a hope of peace with God and a hope of glory! 


Thanks be to God for his gift beyond words!”


Study by Cliff Neill 

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