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THE SHEPHERDS’ EXAMPLE

by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, December 22, 2013

“And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them” (Luke 2:20).


The story of Christmas is wonderful and glorious! And Hollywood has never produced anything that comes close to the real meaning and spirit of Christmas. How could they? For the Christmas story came from the heart and mind of God Himself. And He would direct all the events through His love, power, and providence. There are many characters and tremendous drama. We have the pathos of love, hate, sorrow, and joy. There is suspense and intrigue. And there is great deliverance. The stage includes heaven and earth. And the setting includes the past, present, and future. God’s plan for working out man’s redemption had finally arrived! It began when He placed His Son in the womb of the virgin Mary.

God chose to give this message of Christ’s birth to shepherds. God frequently visits the humble and rejects the proud. This is a theme found throughout the Bible. We see it again in the Christmas story. It is not mainly about the rich or the poor. But it is the condition of the heart that matters to God. God chose lowly Mary and Joseph to be Christ’s earthly parents. But He also chose wise men from the east. These men were wise and wealthy, yet were humble in heart. God rejected the proud and wicked Herod. He also rejected the innkeeper. The innkeeper was no doubt poor. But he also had a hard heart in not making room for baby Jesus in his inn. And then we have the example of the humble shepherds. The Apostle Paul said,

“For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty” (I Corinthians 1:26-27).

Most people the world considers wise, mighty, and important are not called by God. Most of them are too proud to be saved. God usually ignores them. And as long as you remain charmed by the world, God will leave you alone, too. Instead, those that the world considers weak and foolish are often called by God. This is seen in the story of the shepherds.

“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them” (Luke 2:20).

What had these shepherds “heard and seen” that caused their great outburst in glorifying and praising God?

I. First, the shepherds heard what the angel said about Christ.

“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” (Luke 2:10-11).

The angel was God’s messenger to the shepherds. He brought “good tidings of great joy” to “all” people. Christ the Saviour was born! This was great news for the world. But it brought joy only to those who felt the need of a Saviour – and to no others. Most of the world have no sense of sin or need for a Saviour. That’s why the message of Christmas doesn’t excite them.

Not so with the shepherds. They knew this was no normal birth. Christ was announced to be the Saviour of the world. They knew in their heart that they were sinners. They knew this great message was for them. As humble sinners they listened carefully. In Matthew’s Gospel Christ’s name tells it all.

“And thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

The shepherds believed that Jesus could save them from their sins. The shepherds heard the message intently.

Christ has another name,

“And they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Matthew 1:23).

These humble shepherds no doubt believed in God. But they really did not know God. They had no real fellowship with Him. But now through Christ, our “Emmanuel,” God was with them. They could know God’s Son, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. And through faith in Christ they could know God the Father. They listened intently to the angel. They heard him carefully. As a result, they received all the benefits that Christ offered.

“And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard … as it was told unto them” (Luke 2:20).

God’s messenger told the shepherds of salvation through Christ. They listened carefully to what he said. But you say, “If I heard a message about Christ from an angel, I would listen carefully too.” Yet the Bible says,

“How shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14).

The angel brought the message of salvation through Christ to the shepherds. Tonight, I am the preacher who has been sent by God to speak to you. You must listen to me as intently as they listened to that angel! The Bible says,

“How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14).

You must believe what I preach about Christ or you will not be saved.

II. Second, then the shepherds came quickly to Christ.

“And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger” (Luke 2:15-16).

After hearing about Christ, the shepherds came to Him! They came to Christ quickly.

Salvation begins by hearing the word of God. After hearing the word of God He will give you faith to believe on Christ. How glad the shepherds were when they came to Jesus! As a result,

“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them” (Luke 2:20).

The shepherds rejoiced when they came to Christ. Christ did become their Saviour. The shepherds felt like the Shulamite in the Song of Solomon,

“I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go” (Song of Solomon 3:4).

They were filled with great joy when they found Christ. They couldn’t stop glorifying and praising God for His goodness!

But some of you are not rejoicing this Christmas. You don’t have the joy and fulfillment that these simple shepherds had. Because you don’t know Christ, God is not real to you, and you are left in your sins.

I am a “heavy sleeper.” When I am asleep I am dead to the world. My alarm clock could be blasting. There might be a 6.7 Richter scale earthquake shaking the house as during the Northridge earthquake. But I will still remain fast asleep. In my deep slumber I don’t really “hear” these things. But if Mrs. Chan speaks my name softly, “Kreighton,” I immediately wake up and sit bolt upright. Why? Because all that loud noise and shaking did not address me personally. So it did not get my attention. But my name means someone is addressing me, and I pay attention to that.

And so it is with some of you. You have never been “awakened” to your sinful condition and your need for Christ. You have listened to sermon after sermon. Yet you remain spiritually asleep. As an unconvinced sinner the sermons don’t really speak to you. You haven’t really heard them. The sermons are just “noise” to you, like an alarm clock that doesn’t wake you up. And without listening attentively to the preaching, you can never be saved.

There are other reasons for your lack of hearing. Many of you can’t focus your mind enough upon the preaching to really receive it. Oh, the curse of our day of modern gadgets that distract the mind! You must take time to meditate about important and serious things. Things like your eternal soul, your sin, and your need for Christ.

Some may begin to hear and may even be moved to come to Christ. But you delay and do not come quickly to Christ. You allow the Devil time to take the word of God out of your hearts.

For some of you the voice and allure of the world speak louder than the voice of the preacher. So his message is drowned out. You respond to the message that the world offers you. But you do not respond to the message of the Gospel. How I pray that you will soon respond and come to Jesus.

“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them” (Luke 2:20).

III. Third, the shepherds then told others about Christ.

“And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child” (Luke 2:16-17).

After finding Christ, the shepherds told others what they heard about Jesus. These were the first evangelists of the Gospel of Christ! The shepherds came to Christ and trusted Him. They found out that Christ really is the Saviour. They rejoiced that all their sins were forgiven. They had a new life in Christ. And they had to tell others what Christ had done for them. This is true evangelism done out of a changed heart. This is the result of a real conversion through a real encounter with Christ. What was true of the Apostles Peter and John was true of these shepherds also.

“For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20).

A real convert must speak to others what he has “seen and heard.” He has heard the message of salvation through Christ. He has encountered the living Christ. He has had a wonderful conversion experience. It’s all so very real. You cannot keep it to yourself. You must tell others of the “good news” of the Gospel. You must bring others to church to hear the preaching of the Gospel so they too can be saved. You will not worry about being made “fun” of or ridiculed! You will become bold like Peter and John when you encounter Christ.

That was true in my own life. After my conversion, I rejoiced with “joy unspeakable and full of glory”! I had to tell others what Christ had done for me. I couldn’t contain myself. I am a very shy person, but I was not shy about Christ. I couldn’t be. Nothing else mattered. I had to tell others about Jesus and bring them to church with me! This was also the experience of my sister in Christ, Judy Cagan. We were both medical students at UCLA. And we told Buddhists, Jews, and other young people that they needed Christ. We invited them to our church to hear the Gospel. Many of the medical students and faculty were angry, furiously angry! We were dragged in front of the “Honor Council.” They said that we had acted “dishonorably.” They said as medical students we were guilty of religious “harassment.” They said we should be ashamed for not upholding the standard of the UCLA Medical School. We were scolded and told never to speak again about Christ, or invite people to church. We were threatened that our medical careers would be jeopardized if we continued to evangelize. But that did not dampen our witness for Christ. We continued on. They made me go to a weak evangelical professor who told me not to wear my Christianity on my sleeve. He told me to stop talking about Christ to the other students. Thank God I didn’t listen to him. I went right on witnessing. My grades were too good for them to punish me! This is when I really became a disciple of Christ!

And notice the pattern here. First, the angel told the shepherds about Christ. After conversion, these shepherds told others about Christ. Look down again in your Bibles and read again Luke 2:17-18 with special emphasis on “told them.”

“And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds” (Luke 2:17-18).

Look up, please. What was “told us” about Christ must be “told” to others. This is how the message of the Gospel goes out. This was true in the first century of Christianity and is true in all periods of revival. How many times have we heard our pastor tell of the revival at the First Chinese Baptist Church? How a young person got saved in the revival and then told their brothers and sisters about Christ. They brought them to church where they heard the Gospel. These got saved, and they told their friends about what Christ meant to them. They brought them to church, and they heard the Gospel and got saved. After a few years the young people’s parents came to church and got saved.

Let us follow the shepherds’ example! Let us tell others what Christ has done for us. Let us bring our brothers and sisters, mother and father, and friends to church to hear the Gospel. Oh, let’s do it! Let’s do it! We must do it!

And come home to church this Christmas and New Years. Don’t stay home and be lonely. Don’t celebrate a “cyberspace” Christmas in front of a computer. Come back on Tuesday evening at 7:30 and celebrate Christmas Eve with us!

Christ died on the Cross for your sins. He was buried. But on the third day He rose physically from the grave. He ascended into Heaven and now sits at the right hand of the throne of God. This is the Gospel of Christ. Oh, I pray that you will really hear it and trust Christ. He will receive you. He will save you. His Blood will wash away your every sin. Then go and bring others to Him.

Joy to the world! the Lord is come;
   Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
   And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
   And heaven, and heaven and nature sing.
(“Joy to the World” by Dr. Isaac Watts, 1674-1748).

Amen!

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Luke 2:13-20.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
         “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks” (by Nahum Tate, 1652-1715).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE SHEPHERDS’ EXAMPLE

by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan

“And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them” (Luke 2:20).

(I Corinthians 1:26-27)

I.   First, the shepherds heard what the angel said about Christ,
Luke 2:10-11; Matthew 1:21, 23; Romans 10:14.

II.  Second, then the shepherds came quickly to Christ, Luke 2:15-16;
Song of Solomon 3:4.

III. Third, the shepherds then told others about Christ, Luke 2:16-17;
Acts 4:20; Luke 2:17-18.