We cancelled services on December 9th due to snow, which has thrown some of our discussion guides out of order. For week 2 we’ll be substituting in the passage that will be preached on Christmas Eve, since most groups won’t be meeting that week.
Advent Week 2
Advent Week 2
Earlier in this series we looked at the visit of the magi in Matthew 2, in which Gentiles came to worship Jesus, a Jewish King. This week we’ll look at the visit of the shepherds on the night of Jesus’ birth. Like the Magi, these shepherds are the last people you would expect to witness the birth of the King of Kings. That’s one of the beautiful things about the Christmas story: God invited the least, the last, and the lost to celebrate the birth of his Son.
In Luke 2 we see these shepherds getting their average night on the job totally upended. Shepherds watched over their flocks at night to protect them, so in this moment they were watchful and alert, listening for any sign of a predator creeping up. The instantaneous appearance of these angels probably startled the mess out of them. We see in verse 9 that they were “filled with great fear” at the sight of the angel surrounded by the shining aura of God’s glory. To this the angel gave the most frequently used commandment in Scripture: fear not. After the shepherds’ fear subsided we see another emotion in the text: astonishment. The shepherds raced over to Bethlehem to see this newborn savior, and everyone was astonished at their story. They’re amazed at what God is doing in their midst, and at the unbelievable wonder of Jesus’ birth in tiny Bethlehem.
When a prince is born, Kings and Queens are invited to celebrate his birth, not the maids. Note the three-fold title that the angel uses for Jesus in verse 11: “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” The angel tells these shepherds that the savior, the Christ/Messiah, has been born, and that he is the Lord God himself, the King of Kings! And to the human birth of the God of the universe, God decided to invite these shepherds, some of the most salt of the earth, blue-collar workers in their time. Obviously the shepherds didn’t earn this invitation; it was a grace from God. That tells us far more about God than it does these shepherds. In fact, it reveals the very heart of the Gospel, that God loved the far-off by sending his son to them and inviting them to rejoice over him.
Questions for Discussion
• Can someone read Luke 2:8-20 for us?
• Take a look at all the different scenes in this story. If you were one of the shepherds, how would you feel about experiencing all of this?
• Shepherds were lowly, blue-collar workers in this time period. Why do you think God included them in the birth of his son?
• What do you think this story reveals about God’s love?
• How do you think this story relates to God’s love for you?
• How can God’s love for you help you grow in your love others?