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The Scriptorium

Joy to the World!

The Lord is come! Luke 2.8-20

Luke 2 (2)

Pray Psalm 22.23-25.
You who fear the LORD, praise Him!
All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him,
And fear Him, all you offspring of Israel!
For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
Nor has He hidden His face from Him;
But when He cried to Him, He heard.
My praise shall be of You in the great assembly;
I will pay My vows before those who fear Him.

Sing Psalm 22.23-25.
(Darwall: Rejoice, the Lord Is King)
All you who fear the Lord, now praise His holy Name!
You children of His glorious Word, declare His fame!
We stand in awe of our eternal God, and on His mercy call.

For He has not despised the anguish of our King,
nor from Him hid His eyes, Who knew such suffering.
Let praise arise from all who love and serve the Ruler of the skies!

Read Luke 2.1-20; meditate on verses 8-20.

1. What did the angel announce to the shepherds?

2. How did the shepherds respond?

Why shepherds? Why not to the high priest? Or Herod? Or anyone with some power to influence others? And what if the angel had appeared to some religious or political big shot? We saw how Herod responded to the knowledge of Jesus’ birth (Matt. 2). And throughout the whole course of His ministry, Jesus was hounded and opposed by religious leaders who feared losing their place if His work should succeed.

The lesson of the shepherds is clear. God revealed the Good News of great joy that had come to earth in the birth of Jesus to ordinary folk like you and me. Angels performed the praises of God to their wondering eyes, and His Word unfolds those same praises to us day by day. The shepherds received no instructions of any kind, except for the indirect announcement of verse 12: “You will find a Babe…” Our mandate is rather more direct: “You shall be My witnesses…” (Acts 1.8).

But the shepherds knew what to do. First, they encouraged one another: “Let us now go…” (v. 15). Then they “came with haste” to where Jesus lay (v. 16). Having seen, they “made widely known” the glorious Good News they had heard and experienced (v. 18).

We are all like those shepherds. God surprised us with His grace by bringing us to faith in Jesus, and we daily look into His Word to see how beautiful and much to be desired He is. We need to encourage one another in our faith, so that we will be ready with a word of Good News to anyone who asks a reason for the hope that is within us. We are God’s joy bringers to a desperate world! What a glorious privilege and calling!

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
The Babe would not be hard for the shepherds to find or identify properly. How many newborns are wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying, snuggled up in a manger?

Everything about this birth was spectacular, unique, and orchestrated by God. And God chose shepherds, who lived outside with their sheep, to be the first visiting party to meet His dear Son.

And this was such a successful trip for the angel! His third announcement aroused no questions. His message was just totally accepted and rejoiced upon. Although, as per usual, he struck fear in the hearts of his beholders, but that was to be expected. Afterward, this crew responded only with joy and a desire to see this Wonder firsthand and then to tell others in their Personal Mission Field the Good News.

Jesus, in His ministry years, exemplified the humbleness of His manger cradle as an example for those who wanted to be considered “great” in the kingdom. He called His disciples close and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mk. 10.42-45).

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came as a humble baby in a truly rough situation. He was wrapped in scratchy cloths in prickly hay, in a less than sterile feeding trough. For you and me. And all the world.

So, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2.5-7). God did this for us (Jn. 3.16).

“The LORD is high above all nations, His glory above the heavens.
Who is like the LORD our God, Who dwells on high,
Who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in
the heavens and the earth?” (Ps. 113.4-6). Who? Our Triune God.

And we, like Mary, will forever ponder this incredible Word of Good News in our hearts: “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk. 2.11). Born to us!

“Joy to the World!”

For reflection
1. How are the humble circumstances of Jesus’ birth instructive to us as His followers?

2. What do we learn from the shepherds about working our Personal Mission Field?

3. How will you take the joy of the Lord into your Personal Mission Field today?

…the shepherds resolved to set out, immediately after the angels had departed. This conveys an important lesson. Instead of allowing the word of God, as many do, to pass away with the sound, we must take care that it strike its roots deep in us, and manifest its power, as soon as the sound has died away upon our ears. It deserves our attention, also, that the shepherds exhort one another: for it is not enough that each of us is attentive to his own duty, if we do not give mutual exhortations. Their obedience is still farther commended by the statement of Luke, that they hastened, (ver. 16;) for we are required to show the readiness of faith. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Luke 2.15

Pray Psalm 22.26-28.
Pray for the spread of the Gospel and the healing power of grace in every nation. Pray for revival in the churches of the Lord and for a great awakening to faith among the lost.

Sing Psalm 22.26-28.
(Darwall: Rejoice, the Lord Is King)
Then all the poor shall eat and praise with us the Lord.
Forever we His praise repeat and trust His Word.
Praise God above, all you who keep His vows and who His mercies love!

All nations shall repent and hasten to the Lord;
All those to whom His truth is sent shall praise His Word.
The Lord is King! His sovereign rule on high now we His people sing!

T. M. and Susie Moore

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by
clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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