A Hollywood Christmas Part 2
Angels in the Outfield
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
December 8, 2002
It was March 10, 1876, when years of
experiments finally paid off. A message of six simple words changed the
way we live. With the words "Watson, come here. I want you" Alexander
Graham Bell sent the first complete sentence over the telephone and
ushered in a whole new era. It was a message that changed the world.
It was July 20th, 1969, 11:56 p.m. AST. Apollo 11 has landed on the
moon and Neil Armstrong emerges to be the first man to walk on the
moon. His famous message: "That's one small step for a man, one giant
leap for mankind." And life would never be the same. It was a message
that changed the world.
It's was very first Christmas. An angel appears to some common
shepherds in the fields near Bethlehem. "Don't be afraid! I bring you
good news of great joy for everyone! The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the
Lord—has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David!" This
message, more than any other message ever spoken, changed the world and
has the potential to transform lives even today.
Here's what I want us to do this morning. I want us to look at what
this message was, how the shepherds responded, and how we're going to
respond to that message today.
The Message Of The Angels:
I. It was a message of Peace. (vv.10, 14)
picture this. It's nighttime and these shepherds were out in the fields
minding their own business taking care of their sheep when all of a
sudden a great light shone around them and an angel appeared before
them. They weren't expecting it. Chances are it had never happened to
them before. It was natural for them to be afraid. Fear would be the
expected reaction to an appearance by an angel. So the angel gave them
Luke 2:10 (NLT)
“Don't be afraid! …I bring you good news of
great joy for everyone!”
Instead of being afraid in the presence of this messenger from God,
they could be at peace.
Later on, when the angel is joined by others, they join together by
Luke 2:14 (NLT)
"Glory to God in the highest heaven, and
peace on earth to all whom God favors.”
They reiterate that it's a message of peace.
Well, there are different kinds of peace, so let's figure out what
we're talking about here.
kinds of peace are there?
- Political Peace.
Most people desire to have political peace. It’s the absence of war.
It's what we pray for. And especially in times like this with the
events of the past year and troops being sent overseas, with the U.S.
on the verge of war with Iraq, and with the Gulf War still fresh in our
memories, we desire political peace all the more. We think, "If only we
could live in peace, everyone would be happy."
It was Harry Truman who said;
"I would rather have peace in the world than be president."
~ Harry Truman, Dec. 24, 1948
But political peace does not mean the absence of hatred or despair. At
the time that these shepherds received this message, they were
experiencing what was called the Pax Romana (Roman Peace). It was a
time of political peace and prosperity. But it was external. And they
weren't satisfied with it. That's why they were so excited to hear
about the birth of the Prince of Peace. The angels proclaimed a deeper,
more lasting peace that the Roman government could offer. Because a
political and outward peace and prosperity do not satisfy our deepest
We also desire a social peace.
- Social Peace.
We want everyone to agree and get along. But things like that cannot be
legislated. Our laws have tried to abolish racial issues, but every
once in a while they spring up again. Shera and I moved here from the
Halifax area. And just a few years ago our national news coverage
focused on racial prejudice and violence in one of the schools in the
We're also dealing with conflicts over language and we've got a whole
section of our country that wants to separate. There're the ongoing
conflicts between different religions, men and women, rich and poor,
and all these social issues that we try so hard to resolve just won't
go away. We can't as a society solve all these problems. It's just not
going to happen. We can't find a social peace. But Christ came to bring
peace, and he will help us individually to deal with these issues on a
personal level so we can enjoy a social peace.
But like political peace, social peace was not the primary peace Christ
came to offer. He came primarily to bring us a spiritual peace.
- Spiritual Peace.
Spiritual peace is what we need the most. In one of the prophesies in
the Old Testament about the birth of Christ He was referred to as "The
Prince Of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). Now the shepherds are being told that
this Prince has come.
This is the kind of peace that can help us when our boss calls us into
his office, and we wonder what we did wrong. We're afraid we might lose
our job. Or we're afraid something's going to happen that will
drastically change our lives. Or it's the kind of peace that can help
us when we're being examined by a doctor and we're afraid of what he
may find. We're afraid it may be serious and life-threatening. Or it's
a peace that can help when you're driving along the highway caught in
the middle of a blizzard and you're not sure if you're going to be able
to make it. It’s the kind of peace that can help you when things go
wrong in your life. When tragedy strikes. When life deals you a bad
Maybe get that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach when you
consider your financial situation or your relational difficulties. Or
maybe you've experienced a great loss. Spiritual peace is what you need
to help you get by it. It's a peace that is the direct result of
knowing that God is in control and that he cares for you. It's a peace
that says that you can trust Him.
Last week we talked about how Mary was favoured by God. She exhibited
the qualities and characteristics in her life that God was looking for.
Here in this account of the angel speaking to the shepherds, we’re told;
Luke 2:14 (NLT)
Glory to God in the highest heaven, and
peace on earth to all whom God favours.
This peace is offered free of charge to the people God finds favour
with. They’re the people who set high standards in their lives, they’re
the people who try to live by the guidelines laid out in the Bible,
they’re the people who have decided that God is a priority in their
lives. They love Him, they talk with Him, they want to please Him (like
anyone who loves someone wants to please them).
They were told of a Personal Saviour. (vv.10,11)
The angel told the shepherds,
"I bring you good news…” (v. 10, NLT)
“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you…” (v. 11, NIV)
This is a book that came out in the early 90's entitled "The Day
America Told the Truth." It's the result of an extensive survey that
was taken by over two thousand people from all across the U.S. And it
revealed some pretty interesting things. One of the things covered in
this survey was the best and worst occupations. People recorded what
thy felt were the most admirable jobs and the sleaziest. Here are the
jobs that Americans felt were the most admirable for honesty and
Before I read it, what do you think might be on this list?
(See page 143.)
Now for the sleaziest ways to make a living.
(See page 144.)
That is how Americans felt about various occupations in the early 90's.
But among the occupations of this era, shepherding would have been on
that list. Shepherds were considered untrustworthy and their work made
them ceremonially unclean in their culture. Yet God chose these
ordinary shepherds to be the first ones outside of those directly
involved (that is, Mary and Joseph and a few goats... the grandparents
didn't even know yet) to hear about the birth of Christ.
The Good News about God coming to earth as a child first came to these
social outcasts. Although Christ was born as the King of Kings, He
didn't come just for the "important" people among us. He came to make a
difference in every life, from the lowest to the highest. Jesus broke
down any social barriers by consenting to be born in a barn and by
having the news announced first to these outcasts.
We can all know God personally. It doesn’t matter what family we come
from. It doesn’t matter what’s in our past. It doesn’t matter if you’re
part of the “in crowd” or not. God wants to know you personally.
The shepherds were told of a personal Saviour, and the same message is
for you today.
They were given directions to find Jesus. (vv. 11,12)
I read this week that the average business person spends three hours
each week looking for things. I can believe it. Right now, my desk is a
mess. I generally like to be a bit neater, but I’ve been pretty busy
lately and things just keep piling up. So whenever I want to find
something on my desk, it’s like going on an archaeological dig right
And that’s just work. It can be like that with the rest of life, too.
For example, we put up our Christmas Tree this week. And I know last
year we had some of those ornament hooks that I put away so we wouldn’t
lose them. Well, guess what… we lost them. I have no idea where they
are. I looked all over the place for them. And finally, I just gave up
and bought some more.
You know, I don't think there's many things more frustrating than
knowing you've got something and not being able to find it. Especially
if you know you need it.
We don't like not being able to find things. We don't like to wander
about aimlessly. We like to know how to get to where we're going and
how to find what we need. And the greatest need that each one of us has
in our lives, whether we're aware of it or not, is our need for God.
Here’s another book. "Life After God." It's a collection of short
stories by Douglas Coupland meant to be a commentary on our society.
And he's not a Christian, but this is what he wrote at the end of his
READ (2nd from last page)
Those are the words of a man who knows that he needs God. We all do. We
all need a relationship with Jesus Christ. The angel gave the shepherds
some directions on how to find Jesus. He was in Bethlehem, lying in a
manger, and wrapped in strips of cloth.
The Bible contains directions for us, too, on how to find God. Jesus
John 14:6 (NLT)
"I am the way, the truth, and the life. No
one can come to the Father except through me.”
If you're going to find God… if you're going to find this spiritual
peace and this personal Saviour, you're only going to do it by
developing a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Well, there you have it. The shepherds were given a message of peace,
they were told of a personal Saviour, and they were given directions on
how to find this Saviour. How did they respond?
The Response of the Shepherds:
1. They went to find Jesus. (vv.15,16)
Luke 2:15-16 (NLT)
When the angels had returned to heaven, the
shepherds said to each other, "Come on, let's go to Bethlehem! Let's
see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us
They ran to the village…
They didn't waste time. They didn't dilly dally. They hurried off. They
went immediately to be in the presence of Jesus.
2. They worshipped God. (v.20)
Luke 2:20 (NLT)
The shepherds went back to their fields and
flocks, glorifying and praising God for what the angels had told them,
and because they had seen the child, just as the angel had said.
The shepherds were social outcasts. They were heading back to the
fields to take care of the flocks, but they didn’t focus on the
negatives… they chose instead to rejoice in the fact that they received
the message and that they were chosen to meet with God.
3. They told others about Jesus. (vv .17,18)
Luke 2:17-18 (NLT)
Then the shepherds told everyone what had
happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who
heard the shepherds' story were astonished…
We like to talk about what interests us. People who are in love talk
constantly about their mate. A husband who is genuinely and deeply in
love with his wife will want to tell others about her. When he goes on
business trips, he can't help but tell people about the fantastic wife
that he can't wait to get back to.
Or if there's a specific sport that you enjoy, you'll talk about it. I
like hockey. I talk about it. Others of you like soccer, or basketball,
or baseball, or football. You talk about the things that interest you.
When was the last time you found you couldn't help but talk about
Jesus? When was the last time you shared what He means to you with a
family member? With a friend? With a pre-Christian? If Christ is alive
and well in our lives, we shouldn't be able to help ourselves when it
comes to sharing what He means to us. Telling others about Christ
should be the natural outflow of our relationship with Him to those who
don't know Him.