“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:8-12).
Most people are very familiar with the Christmas story, but do they truly understand who the shepherds found lying in the manger really was and is? The majority of Christmas cards miserably fail to reveal that the child was more than Mary’s offspring. Maybe all the carols, glitter and gift-giving obscures the fact that this babe is God’s Son, the Saviour of mankind. A neat trick the devil has pulled off indeed! The fact is though, God stepped out of Heaven to spend time with us in Person. The angels on the day of Christ’s birth could not but rejoice at this marvellous, once for all eternity, event. They looked up to see God on the Throne, and down to see Him in a cattle shed. It is almost too much for our minds to grasp. But no matter how people think Christmas should be celebrated, or even if it ought to be, that night that Jesus was born was the revelation of God in human form. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God … And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:1-2, 14). Let us look at the three things the angels called Jesus.
“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). This verse tells us exactly whom Jesus came to save. It was not the religious or self-righteous people, who by-and-large reject their need for a Saviour. He came instead to set the sinner free. “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). He came to deliver the hopeless, the helpless and those who no one else wanted. “They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Mark 2:17).
Jesus is our Saviour today just as much as He was for the shepherds who first peered into the stable that night. They knew that God had given them the marvellous privilege of standing before the Saviour of the world. Such a blessing is available to each one of us in this era too, for through Him we know that we are accepted by God. “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:6). A part of being our Saviour is the fact He delivers us from the power of sin, therefore it has no more authority over those who believe. “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Revelation 1:5) … “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19). This Saviour preserves those who follow, trust and obey Him. “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). As we continue in faith, so He keeps us secure in Christ. “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5) … “Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father” (1 John 2:24).
We wonder if the shepherds fully understood that they were standing in the very presence of Almighty God that night. We do not need a physical location to be with God, all that is required is faith that He now permits us to approach Him. Do we truly appreciate the significance of Hebrews 4:16, which tells us that we can “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need”? Has it dawned on us yet that we have free access to God, the Creator and Sustainer of all things, at any time? This is not on our terms or according to our own merit, instead it was made available from the very moment the Lord came to earth. “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).
Christ, the Messiah, is our High Priest, this means that we can simply ask in faith, believing that God hears our prayers and will act according to His will. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you” (John 16:23). It is a wonderful blessing to know that Christ intercedes for all who trust Him, so since we are in Him, He will represent us before the throne of glory. “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25) … “We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1).
The angel recognised the Lordship of the baby in the manger and encouraged the shepherds to believe the same. What appeared to be a helpless babe was in fact the Sovereign Lord of all. Revelation 1:8 records Jesus saying, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty”. Here is a reminder to each of us that Jesus must be Lord of all or not at all in our lives. “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:16) … “He is Lord of all” (Acts 10:36).
“Lord” is an appropriate title for our Saviour, but have we ever truly made Him Lord? That is, have we allowed Him to take absolute and complete authority over our lives? Simply calling Him Lord with the mouth without faith that expresses itself in action is a deception. If He is our Lord, then He deserves our all. We must be willing to lay everything down as an offering. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2). Is such a demand for total obedience too costly for us? The shepherds were some of the first to see the Lord, but no matter what walk of life we come from, He must be our Master if we are to enter into His Kingdom. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
“Saviour … Christ … Lord” is what the angel said was the true identity of Bethlehem’s babe. That child born in a stable over 2,000 years ago offered all who believe a life-changing experience. Sadly few today see the true significance for why He came. They ignore the fact that this little child was the one who would die on the cross for sinners, therefore He cannot be their Christ until they make Him their Lord. The greatest gift of all was given to us on the first Christmas Day. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).