God invited total strangers (the shepherds) to his son’s first birthday party. But did you know you were on the guest list too? The Christ was born for all of us, “unto you” is for me and you. Have you accepted His invitation? You’re on the guest list.
In the gospel of Luke, he recorded the story of Jesus’ birth which an angel of the Lord announced to the shepherds, inviting them to come and see the promised Savior, who is Christ the Lord. We too are on God’s guest list. We are invited to come to the Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Below is an automated transcript of this messageListen , I need some help down here. I need some young people down here sitting with me so we can talk about the Christmas story. So, Children, come on down. Come and have a seat; squeeze in tight. We’re going to sit really close, okay. Scoot over just a little bit. Squeeze in tight. Okay, let me put my feet here. Okay. Gotta have a place for my feet. There we go. Can you believe I have my knees squeezed up this tight? It’s amazing. I know you all can do it, but I usually can’t. So that’s good. Squeeze in tight. Okay. Squeeze into this space.
We’re going to talk about the Christmas story. I want you to be really, really quiet so you can hear the story. There’s a question I’m going to ask when I finish reading . Listen for it, so you’ll know how to answer. Here’s what we’re talking about; the guest list. There were certain people invited to the very first birthday of Jesus. So, I want you to listen to the story. And at the end, I’m gonna ask who was invited to the first day of Christ’s birth on Christmas Day. So here’s the story.
Luke 2:1-14 (ESV) “1In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. 8And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.”
So, there’s the story. Okay, now, here’s the first thing I want to ask you about. I heard that you had a “Prove It” verse in December that maybe you heard inside of this story. Did you hear the “Prove It” verse? So, who knows it? Say it right now. (children recite Luke 2:11) Awesome! So you not only knew the verse, but you knew the address of the verse, Luke 2:11. That’s really great! You’ve learned your “Prove It” verse for the month of December.
Here’s the question; who did God invite to His Son’s first birthday? All right, a hand went up first over here. Let’s hear it. That was a good guess; the three wise men. Were the three wise men in this story? No, they weren’t. There’s a hint right over there. Shepherds? That’s right. The shepherds were invited. Yeah, that’s right. There’s a shepherd. That’s right.
Do you remember having a birthday party? Have you guys ever had a birthday party? Did your parents invite strangers to your birthday party or did they invite friends? God invited these lowly shepherds to His Son’s first birthday . These men, who had very little, came to be the first ones present in that a beautiful story. Now, as we think about that verse, what was that verse again? Awesome. Go home and teach your parents that verse. In that verse, who is invited? Say the verse in your head again. Who’s invited inside that verse? “For unto… that’s right, us all. What about you? For unto you is invited. I wonder if this shepherd has any of these because this reminds me of the shepherd’s staff. You see that? He’s got one in his hand, holding it right. This reminds us that God invited the shepherds. When you turn it this way, it’s the letter what? Yes, it’s the letter J. That reminds us of who? Of Jesus, right. So thanks for being so well behaved. Hey, shepherd , if you have some candy canes, you can help out. So get a candy cane and head back to your seat. Parents give them a hand. They were awesome.
Okay, “So unto you…” that’s the verse. That’s the “Prove it” verse for the kids. And that’s the verse that I want to talk to you about. We’ve entitled this message, “The Guest List.” The idea this morning was to have a family service; we would have everyone together in one room. We’re having a great time this morning talking about how, in the gospel of Luke, not only were the shepherds invited, but you were invited, too.
In the Gospel of Luke, it’s amazing to me that the Father invited these shepherds that were out in that region to come and visit; to be the first ones to see. But perhaps it was because they knew how to identify a lamb. Because the Lamb of God is the one born in the stable. I want to talk to you about how to respond to God’s invitation to you. “For unto you…” I want to talk about how you might respond to Him as Savior and Lord and not just the baby in the manger. I want you to think about it. He came to be a lamb; see, kings are born in palaces. But lambs were born in stables. And so, as we consider this Christ, the story of Christmas, it’s difficult sometimes to look at it with fresh eyes. But let’s see if we can do it today.
I want you to notice in verses eight through 11, as you look at the shepherds, it says they were keeping watch over their fields at night and they heard this message from the angels. I was an invitation to go.
Here’s the first step in responding to Jesus as Lord and Savior.
(1) Hear it.
Have you heard it? Have you heard the gospel story? Have you heard the story of how Jesus came as the Lamb of God, to die in your place? Look at what the angels said to the shepherds. It says, “Fear not, I bring you good news of great joy…” Good news is where we get the word, “gospel.” “…that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day…” Then, he gives three titles, Savior, Christ and Lord. He gave those three titles to the shepherds and they had a decision to make right then. They had a personal invitation from God, the Father, from an angelic host. They had to decide if they were going to hear it. Hearing it is the beginning of believing the good news.
What is good news? It’s something you have to hear. Have you heard it? That’s the question I want you to think about. Have you heard it? You know, it’s one thing to celebrate Christmas; it’s a beautiful time to be with family, but have you heard it as the shepherds heard it?
Romans 10:17 (ESV) “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Have you heard the story? I’m really proud of our kids, aren’t you? Not only do we teach them things, but we teach them how to memorize important verses in the Bible, and it was good to hear that they remembered and had memorized it. But, it was also good to hear that they were beginning to engage it here, to think about the meaning and to help them unpack it, you know?
That’s what we want to be doing; when we go through the Christmas story, parents be thinking about this. This coming week is Christmas Eve and then Christmas Day. Do you want to know what story to read to your kids? I would read the one I just read; Luke, chapter 2:1 through 20. As your kids get big enough, old enough to read on their own, hand the Bible to the oldest child and let that child be the reader. And then, as the next one gets old enough, begin to pass it around. Start a family tradition that includes this story so they can hear it and then talk about it.
Let me just clue you in; you are thinking that the pastor had a perfect family growing up. You couldn’t be more wrong. I have a family just like yours. There was something always going on, “He touched me. Can I have more eggnog? I don’t want to read. I want to read. It’s my turn to read….” There were all kinds of distractions, but through the chaos, through trying to get them all to sit still, to stop touching the other one, through all of that, it gets through to them if you do it year after year, day after day. Do you hear it? Do you hear it? Have you heard the good news? Jesus was born unto us.
Here’s the second truth:
(2) See it.
Look at verses 15 and 16; “the shepherds, after they had seen the angels, they said to each other, let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, that the angels have told us about.” Let’s go see it. You know those words, see it, in the Greek have the idea of to experience it. Not just to look at it in passing, but to go get a real good look.
And so they traveled from the region outside of Bethlehem. They were out in the fields; these are guys, blue collar workers working third shift. They were watching their sheep at night, and they come into Bethlehem and find that stable. They got a good look. You see, here’s the thing that I believe about these shepherds. I think these shepherds were the ones that we read about in prophecy that were working there at a place called the Migdal Eder, which means Tower of the Flock. They had expertise in raising the paschal lamb. The paschal lamb was offered on Passover, and it had to be a lamb without blemish, and they would swaddle these newborn lambs. These were the shepherds in Bethlehem . It’s only like a twenty minute walk to Jerusalem. They made their living raising these paschal lambs, and they would swaddle them so they would have no scratch or imperfection so that they would be worthy of temple worship.
When they went to Bethlehem and they saw the baby lying in a manger, what an unusual sign. Swaddled like a paschal lamb. It penetrated their hearts. They saw it. Do you see it? Do you see Jesus? He’s not just the baby in the manger, the shadow of the cross overshadows the cradle. This baby came to die, as a Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. Do you here it Do you see it?
The final step is:
(3) Tell it.
We see this; look at verses 17 and 18, “And when they saw it, they made known the saying that have been told them concerning this child and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.” So when they saw it, they made known what they had seen . You know, there’s just something about human nature. If you see something amazing, nobody has to tell you to tell it. It’s amazing that God even has to tell us to tell it. Because if you have experienced God, if you have experienced Christ in your life, no one has to tell you to tell it. You can’t stop from telling it. It’s changed your life. These shepherds left that place and there normal activity. I mean, who knows how many generations they have been raising sheep. But it never was the same after that, because they had met the Lamb of God. They knew now that they had met the Lord. And so, from then on they begin to talk about it.
Will you tell it? It says in Mark, Chapter 16. Jesus speaking, Mark 16:15 (NLT And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” he says. Having heard it, they went to see it and having experienced it, they just couldn’t stop telling about it.
So, as we go through this season at Christmas, may we be the people who tell it, tell what we’ve seen and heard. Tell about the Christ child who came as the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world.
Notice how it summarizes in Luke, chapter two, verse 20, this last verse that I read today. “And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen as it had been told them.” Here it, see it, tell it.
Let’s pray. Let’s talk to the Lord about what He’s taught us today. Lord, we want to reply like the shepherds did. We want to come away from our busyness this season; we want to come away from all the busy cooking, gift buying and decorating. All these things are wonderful but they can be very distracting. Others are here today. They’re going through a season. There’s someone missing at the table This year, someone won’t be there at the Christmas dinner because they’ve been taken away. Someone’s missing . And so, sometimes we don’t know how to experience this season. Lord, would you comfort those who are missing that person this year? Would you remind us that because of Jesus, there is eternal life and that we can live forever with You, Lord Jesus. You’re the Savior, You are the Christ and You’re the Lord. I pray for the person today that would make this Christmas the Christmas when they actually recognize You. Would that be you, my friend? Would you pray right in your seat right now. Dear Lord Jesus, I’m a sinner. I need a Savior. Come into my life, forgive me of my sin. Make me the person you want me to be. I want to be a child of God. I want to follow you as Lord and Savior. There’s young people praying that prayer. Right now there’s an adult praying that prayer right now. What matters is not so much the words as it is the faith in your heart. Do you want Jesus ? Do you want Him as your Lord and Savior? That’s why He came. That’s what we’re talking about. That’s what Christmas is all about. It’s about He came and He invited you. You’re on his guest list. Lord, we thank you. We thank you for this great message. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.