People Who Were There
Message #3 in a series on New Testament Personalities

The Shepherds

Read: Luke 2:8-20

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

Theme: The shepherds demonstrate the right response to the Christmas message.


This is one of the most beloved passages of Christmas time.

Linus movingly quoted this passage in the classic "Charlie Brown Christmas" cartoon.

My daughter Amy memorized it as a kindergarten assignment when attending Christian school.

It wouldn't be Christmas without reading and hearing this passage over and over.

As beautiful and rich a description of the Christmas message as it is, though, it also provides a clear demonstration of the correct response to that message.

I. The Announcement

A. Good News (vs. 10)
1. Definition - EUANGELION - good news - used approx. 75 times in N.T. of the message of Christ.

2. Everybody loves good news. (Prov 25:25 (KJV) As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.)

QUESTION - Why was the angel's announcement good news?

QUESTION - How do people usually respond to good news?

QUESTION - Do we truly respond to the gospel message as good news?

B. Someone special is born (vs. 11)
QUESTION - What are the names/ descriptions for Jesus given here? What is the significance/meaning of each?

1. A savior (SOTER - "a savior, deliverer, preserver")

2. Christ the lord (KRISTOS - "anointed, in Old Testament usually referred to high priesthood, in the New Testament, used of Jesus Christ." KURIOS - "lord, master, owner").

QUESTION - Were they looking for a savior? From what?

QUESTION Are people today looking for a savior? From what/

QUESTION Why do we need a savior?

QUESTION - Can we see Jesus as a savior, without seeing Him as Christ the Lord?

C. You can find Him if you want to (vs. 12)
1. He is there for the seeker.

Deu 4:29 (KJV) But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.

Mat 7:7 (KJV) Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

ILLUS. Zacchaeus (Luke 19:3f)

QUOTE - "The seeking savior will never miss a meeting with a seeing sinner." David R. Anderson

2. All we need do is ask.

Acts 16:31 (KJV) And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

Rom 3:23 (KJV) For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

James 4:8 (KJV) Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.

D. God should be praised for this. (vss. 13-14)

QUESTION - How can we praise Him this Christmas season?

II. The Response

A. Fear (vs. 9)
Definition - PHOBOS - "fear, terror"


QUESTION - Was fear a normal response/reaction to angels? (cf. Luke 1:12,29)

QUESTION - What part should fear have in our response to the Christmas message?

1. Though we rejoice, let us also soberly acknowledge the greatness and holiness of God, and the sinfulness and worthlessness of mankind, that necessitated the savior.

2. We are so far from deserving what Christ did for us.

Isa 64:6 (KJV) But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Rom 3:11 (KJV) There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

Gen 6:5 (KJV) And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

B. Interest (vs. 15)
QUESTION - Could the shepherds have experienced Jesus Christ without this response?

QUESTION - How can we (both as a church and as individuals) pique peoples' interest in the gospel this Christmas season?

QUESTION - Why are people not interested today? Is it different today than during the first Christmas?

C. Urgency (vs. 16)
When a person sees their need, they cannot move fast enough to respond.

ILLUS. Bartimaeus demonstrated great urgency - Mark 10:46-50

ILLUS. (Personal illustration - Tom Jones running down aisle to be saved.)

ILLUS. Zaccheus - (Luke 19:6 (KJV) And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.)

QUESTION - How can we demonstrate this response during this Christmas season?

D. Sharing (vs. 17)
QUESTION - What is the purpose of the church?

ANSWER - (From Henry Thiessen's Lectures in Systematic Theology, pg. 332) - "The great commission directs the church to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations. The Scriptures do not direct us to convert the world, but to evangelize it. By this is meant... that the church is under obligation to give the whole world an opportunity to hear the gospel and to accept Christ. We know that not all the world will respond to the gospel call, but the church is by duty bound to give the whole world an opportunity to know about him and to accept his salvation."

Mat 28:19 (KJV) Go ye therefore, and teach all nations...

Mark 16:15 (KJV) And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

Luke 24:48 (KJV) And ye are witnesses of these things.

Acts 1:8 (KJV) But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

QUESTION - How do we demonstrate this response this Christmas season? (As a church and as individuals?)

QUOTE - "Salvation may come in quietly, but few people can keep quiet about it." Curtis Hutson

QUOTE - "If your Christianity is worth having, it should be worth sharing."

E. Worship (vs. 20)
This is the net affect of all the above responses.

(When we hear, we fear, we develop an interest, we respond with urgency, we share with others who repeat the process... and God is glorified in the process. This is true worship.)


Let us do two things this Christmas season:

1.) Ensure the announcement continues to be made.

2.) Ensure our own response to it glorifies our God.

This is the lesson of the shepherds.

Please direct questions, comments, and submissions to William E. Johnson
Copyright 1996 William E. Johnson.