Friday, December 19, 2003
It's time to wash the bathrobes again - for the boys to wear in the Christmas pageant. Like thousands of boys at Christmastime, I, too, was drafted into being one of those shepherds. I'm not sure my bathrobe got washed any other time of the year actually. Not to be petty, but I always thought the guys playing the wise men had a better deal. They got to wear some fancy clothes, and they had something to give to Baby Jesus when they came - I think we used to call it gold, frankenstein, and myyrh. But not us shepherds. Oh, no! Since the Bible doesn't describe any specific gift the shepherds brought, we came empty handed. I thought we looked a little cheap. But I've learned something since then.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "What the Shepherds gave the Baby."
What the shepherds gave Jesus must have meant far more to Him than any treasure the wise men brought. It's a gift that is within your power to give - but one that all too few of His followers ever offer Him.
Our Christmas word for today from the Word of God comes from Luke 2, beginning with verse 15. The shepherds have just gotten heaven's birth announcement from the angelic choir. They know the baby they're going looking for is "the Savior ... Christ the Lord." The Bible then goes on to say: "The shepherds said to one another, 'Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.'" The shepherds, of course, found the baby in the manger as announced. And then, "when they had seen Him, they spread the word about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them."
Well, there it is - the great gift the shepherds gave Jesus - the gift He wants from you. They told people who hadn't met Jesus about their Savior. They seemed to understand instinctively that when you "come and see" Jesus for yourself, then you "go and tell" about Him to people who have not seen Him. And if you belong to Jesus, my guess is that there are a number of people in your personal world who have yet to see or hear who Jesus really is. You can't imagine one day without Jesus. They've never lived one day with Jesus. When Jesus sent someone to tell you the good news about a Savior who had come here for you, He didn't mean for you to just "go and hoard it" or "go and sit on it" - He's trusted you to go and tell it to someone you know whose eternity depends on it.
We tend to think that communicating Jesus is something we delegate to a "pro" - a pastor, an evangelist, someone with all the training. But the plan of Jesus was evident from the day He arrived - that everyday believers be the ones to tell people about Him. Who could have been more everyday than cultural rejects like shepherds? But they were the first spiritual rescuers that ever spread the life-saving news about the Savior. And there's only one way every unbeliever is going to have a chance at Jesus, or a chance at heaven, and that's if every one of us believers becomes a rescuer. Your commitment to Jesus that you will do whatever it takes to bring some people He died for to heaven with you - that's a gift that will bring Him incredible joy.
Amsterdam 2000 was Billy Graham's great gathering of 10,000 evangelists from nearly 200 countries. That historic meeting ended with a choir of young people singing "Go Tell It on the Mountain" with a large cross behind them. Then, as 10,000 servants of Christ joined them in singing, those young people lifted that cross above their heads and carried it from that crowd of Christians and out to a lost and dying world. That's what Jesus wants from you. "Go tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is born" - born to die so they can live.