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This is part 2 of 5 in the The Story of Christmas from the People Who Were Actually There sermonlink series. Find this and other pursueGOD.org sermons on YouTube here.

To better understand the first Christmas we need to highlight the shepherds’ perspective. The shepherds, tending their sheep in the field, have become famous to the Nativity Story. Let’s see why the shepherds play such a prominent role on that first Christmas.

Luke 2:8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep

The life of an ancient shepherd was a difficult one at best. It was a life for loners who were often treated like a bunch of losers. Shepherds were seen as outsiders, looked down upon, resented, made fun of, and despised by the rest of the community. Their reputation was so bad that they were not permitted to give testimony in a court of law because they were thought to be untrustworthy.

Genesis 46:34 Every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.

A sudden surprise hits the shepherd boys. Out of the blue the sky explodes right before their eyes.

Luke 2:8-9 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified.

As the shepherds are watching the sheep, an angel of God appears out of nowhere and a brilliant light of the glory of God explodes across the canopy of the sky. What a sudden surprise – what a shock! God’s angels appearing to this sorry group of shepherd boys. God is always looking out for the lost and the least.

God Lovingly Decides to Share Good News with the Nobodies of the World

The text says, “They were terrified.” The sudden surprise immediately turns to tears of terror for these shepherds. The night watch had turned into a nightmare. These poor guys were absolutely terrified, not only at the sight of an angel, by the way, which they had never seen before, but also at the glory of God behind the angel.

Luke 2:10-12 But the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Nobody ever brought shepherds good news. God chose the shepherds to announce the birth of Christ to show the world he can use anyone. God doesn’t just love the somebodies, he also loves the nobodies. God’s good news isn’t just for the rich and famous, it’s also for the poor and forgotten.

What is the good news? The good news is that Jesus is here to forgive you and make a way to heaven. And this good news isn’t just for religious people, people in palaces, high places. It is for the “down and outer” as much as it is for the “up and comer.” This good news is to “all people.” It’s for you!

Jesus Dumpster Dives to Give Us Peace

It is startling to consider that Jesus left the wonder and glory of heaven in order to dumpster dive into this cesspool of sin planet to bring us peace. The world is looking for peace. Not just peace between nations, but also peace with God. The angels rejoice because people can now finally discover peace with God. The Bible tells us, “Jesus is the Prince of Peace.” Jesus is the only one who can give us real peace. The kind of peace that heals our shame, calms our emotions, forgives our regrets, and reconciles us to God. Jesus has the peace you have been looking for your whole life.

How to Respond to a Dumpster Diving God

Let’s take a look at the amazing response of the shepherd boys.

Luke 2:16-18 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger.   

They Ran as Fast as They Could to Meet Jesus

When you find the true King, the one who values you, who can bring real peace and the one who can forgive every mistake you’ve ever made. You run to him. You don’t hesitate and you don’t procrastinate.

They Told Everyone They Could About Jesus

The very ones the world would not allow to give witness in court, God chooses to witness to the world. The silenced ones were now the shouters of Jesus. The loners were now the leaders of praise. And never forget, you have a story of what God has done in their life.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
  2. What is your favorite part of Christmas?
  3. Share what your best Christmas was and why.
  4. Come up with a list of people in our culture today who are looked down upon. Share why you think they have a negative reputation.
  5. Why do you think God first shared the good news of Jesus with a group of nobodies?
  6. Read Luke 2:8-9. Share how you think you would have reacted if millions of God’s angels broke out in the first Christmas chorus right before your eyes?
  7. What is the Good News that the angels were talking about?
  8. Read Philippians 2:5-11. Share the great lengths Jesus was willing to go to come to the earth dumpster dive and jump into the cesspool of sin we live in.
  9. Nobody ever brought the shepherds good news. Who brought you Jesus’ good news? Explain.
  10. Read Luke 2:16-18. Share how you responded when you first heard about Jesus.
  11. God intentionally chooses the rejects to receive his good news. God can use you to reach others. What keeps you from telling others about Jesus?
  12. What can you do so that you will be more willing to tell others?
  13. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

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