EBible Fellowship Sunday Bible Study – 14-Dec-2008


by John McOwen


How many of you, if any of you, saw the Charlie Brown Christmas on TV this past week?  It has been on for 45 years straight now, or something along those lines, and I certainly remember it as a kid.  If you even have a television, a lot of you do not, and I admire that, but I happen to catch a little bit of it, and it just brought back a lot of childhood memories, in particular the last piece at the very end of the cartoon of  Peanuts. Linus stands up on the stage and he reads from Luke 2. And if you remember that, we are going to take a reading from Luke 2, and exactly what was spoken on that program and has been like I said for 40+ years now.  In Luke 2:8, I am going to read a few verses, and then we are going to study it to see what it really means. What the essence of this meaning, and what Charles Schultz tried to get across to some degree, back in the early 1960’s when he first created that program.  Anyway Luke 2:8-14 reads:

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 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. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

We will end our reading there.  If you ever remember watching that show, Linus says, right after that reading, he goes, “and this is what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.”  That was the whole focus of that cartoon special.  You know, all the trimmings with the trees, and the gifts, and getting the lights up, ultimately the show ends with this reading and that statement, “this is what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.”  Well, indeed it is, and we see here in this passage in Luke 2, that an angel had come to these shepherds on the night Christ was born.  There were two things in particular that the angel said to the shepherds that I want us to look at in our brief time together today.  The very first one is found in verse 10, of our reading:

And the angel said unto them, …

That was the shepherds that were in the field watching over their flock.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: …

That is the very first thing the angel said to them.  So we are going to look at that, “Fear not,” the angel said.  Well, we have to ask the question. Why were they afraid to begin with?  And that was found really in verse 9:

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: …

And then we read:

… and they were sore afraid.

So we do see that the shepherds were very afraid.  They were scared, fearful. But what preceded the statement that “they were sore afraid” kind of gives us the idea, or it points us in the direction as to why.  And can anyone take a guess as to why they were so afraid when the angel appeared before them?  All right, that is one thing Lester, they thought they saw a ghost, that might be one way of putting it. Sure, if you are not used to it, and all of a sudden something appears out of nowhere, you are going to be afraid, it is not normal.  Gary?  You are onto it.  As they were watching over their flock, this huge light “shone round about them,” and as the Bible says, that that light shone about them because that light was, as we read preceding it, “the glory of the Lord.” And all of a sudden here:

… the glory of the Lord shone round about them: …

So that light was the glory of God, and when that shined down upon them, then they were afraid. And that is really what we want to look at here, our first analysis of the two different things the angels said to the shepherds. 

And I want us to go back in history to see how really people have always been afraid in the Bible’s history whenever they have been in the presence of the glory of God.  We want to take a look at an example or two of that, and then understand why. Why would you be afraid?  One of them that we are going to look at is in Exodus 34, where the glory of the Lord was shining down on people, and again they were afraid.  This is a good 1,500 years before Christ’s birth, but the same thing happened.  Exodus 34:29-30 we read:

And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.

So there we have this same word there, but in the Hebrew this shining, this light that is emanating from “the skin of his face.”

And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.

Why were they afraid to come near him?  Well, his face was shining really brightly, but rather than being attracted to that, or admiring that, they were afraid. Why?  What happened? What did he have in His hands?  He had come down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony. God’s commandments were in his hands, and he had been in the presence of God, the glory of God was shining down not only to him, but it reflected off of Moses’ face when he emanated from the mountain, and we see there a great picture of why they were afraid.  Not only was it there, this great light shining down off of Moses’ face, but we see pictured here the two tables of testimony, which were the commandments of God.  Now let me ask the ultimate question. If you are keeping all the commandments, and you see Moses come down from the mount and he has the ten commandments and he is shining, you probably would be pretty happy. But when would you be afraid?  If those commandments on the tables indicted you, you would begin to fear, “Oh no, I am in trouble.”  That is what we see here, kind of liken to when the shepherds were in the field at Christ’s birth:

… and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

Much like Aaron and the people of Israel were when Moses’ face shone after he had been in the glory and in the presence of God, and he had the two tables of testimony with him. But where in the Bible is the first record of fear recorded for us?  Does anyone know? Think about it?  Where in the Bible does God first record fear in mankind?  Bob?  Bob got it, Genesis 3, with Adam. Let us go there, and in Genesis 3:9, that is the first record of fear, and let us see if that also has anything to do with what we are studying here so far.  In Genesis 3:9-10 we read:

And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

What had Adam just done, before we go any further?  He had just sinned, him and Eve had just taken of the forbidden fruit, “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” when God had commanded them not to.  So, this is right after that happened, and God said unto Adam:

… Where art thou? And he said, …

This is Adam.

… I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

Now there is no light shining down in this example, but it is the first place where fear is recorded in the Bible, it is the first place where we see fear. ut we are going to see a beautiful tie-in here, because what we read is that Adam said:

… I was afraid, …

And Adam tells us why he was afraid:

… I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

Why would you be afraid if you are naked? That does not make sense either does it? Although we understand from other passages in the Bible, what that really means is God wrote very parabolically. And when someone is naked what does that show?  Sin, just as your flesh is exposed, if you walk in on someone unexpectedly and they are naked, they are shamed, they want to cover themselves up real quick, it is just not normal, other than between a husband and a wife, that is not something that normally happens, so we are shamed by our nakedness when other people see it.  And it is a picture of our sin being exposed, just like our flesh is exposed to others to view, but it is hidden, it is camouflaged by the clothing we put on it.  We see here that Adam was naked, but he was afraid, because it showed a great picture that his sins were exposed. 

Now, let us go back to the Israelites. When Moses came down from the mountain, the glory of God was shining through his face, and because the shining off of his face the people were very afraid, because he had the two tables of testimony in his hands, it was the ten commandments and the people were afraid. Why?  Because their sins were exposed. Once again, the law was written, they were indicted, their sins were exposed before God, and they became afraid.  And Adam was afraid for the same reason, he had just sinned, and now he is naked.  He did not say I was afraid because I disobeyed you, that would have made sense because that is what he just did in the earlier part of the chapter, but he said, “I was afraid, because I was naked.”  So you see God is tying in here, disobeying God’s commandments and being naked are synonymous.  The synonym or the example of being naked is a metaphor for having your sins exposed before the light, before God’s eyes. Do not take my word for that, obviously, the Bible proves that in many ways.  But, this is lust a couple of quick examples to show that.  In Exodus 32, we read in Exodus 32:23-25:

For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us: for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf. And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies:)

You see, this was the example when Moses again was up on mount Sinai with “the two tables of testimony.” What did we see in the earlier passage we read?  God’s glory shone, it was shining through his face and the people were afraid.  What happened here?  The same thing, he came down from the mount, but this time they say they made themselves naked and they were ashamed.  So once again we see that tie-in of being naked, God’s glory the light of God shining down and exposing you for what you really are.  What is underneath the clothes?  Your nakedness, your flesh, and what is really there, ultimately we see that it is a sign of our disobedience to God.  That is why Adam said, “I was naked” that is why I was afraid, meaning that I had just disobeyed You, that is why I am afraid because now I fear You, because I am afraid of what You are going to do to me, because You told me:

… in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

So he knew what the commandment and the consequences were.  One more about being naked is Ezekiel 23.  We were in Exodus 23, now it is Ezekiel 23 in the Old Testament in verses 28-30, and that reads:

For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will deliver thee into the hand of them whom thou hatest, into the hand of them from whom thy mind is alienated: And they shall deal with thee hatefully, and shall take away all thy labour, and shall leave thee naked and bare: and the nakedness of thy whoredoms shall be discovered, both thy lewdness and thy whoredoms. I will do these things unto thee, because thou hast gone a whoring after the heathen, and because thou art polluted with their idols.

That is a great picture, that whole whoredom. Nakedness, it is a great picture of just sinning, disobeying God and Him finally giving them up and bringing great wrath upon them.  So, we see in the Bible, there are many other examples that being naked is a picture of having your sins exposed before God, and there you are, nothing to hide, nothing to cover it, He sees it. “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good”the Bible says.

Well, back to our reading in Luke 2. Remember the angel came upon the shepherds as they were in the field watching over their flock by night, and we said we were going to look at two things the angel said to the shepherds.  The very first one was, “Fear not,” and we understood now why they were afraid; the glory of God, the light was shining down. So what was the reason?  The reason was because the glory of God’s light was shining down upon them, and it showed a picture that they realized that they were sinful before a holy God,and they were hence, afraid.  So, that is why the shepherds were afraid, more than just as one of you said earlier that they saw a ghost, it was more than that, it was the fact, because right before the Bible said the shepherds were afraid it said:

… and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: …

And that is why they are afraid, because the Bible tells us over and over again that, it pictures our sin, the light shines down, we cannot hide in the dark from God, and they knew, they understood.  There was God’s glory shining down, they were exposed before Him and they were afraid because they knew they were sinners.  And there was consequence to that sin.  But the angel said to them afterwards, when he said, “Fear not.” Why were they not to fear?  Because the angel said that he was going to announce good news of great joy to them. 

Now let me take you to another example. Have any of you been in a hospital for tests for whatever ailment you may have had, and you get an MRI, a CAT scan, or an X-ray or whatever it may be, and typically you are waiting for a while for the results.  It is not like you just go in, and there you get a CAT scan, and five minutes later, the doctor comes and tells you what the problem is.  If you are in a hospital setting, you usually have to wait hours and hours and hours.  Typically, they put you in a room, and depending on what the issues are, you may have to stay as an inpatient or they might release you. But have any of you been in this situation when you have had that done?  Four years ago I was, I will never forget it.  I had a CAT Scan done and did not know what was going on inside my body, and all of a sudden three, four hours later a doctor comes into the room, and in my case I was very blessed and fortunate. But in your case I do not know if any of you have been through this, and if the doctor says I have good news for you. Immediately what happens?  The proverbial monkey is off your back, that huge load on your shoulders has now been lifted off, and dropped, and you feel euphoric, you feel incredible, because when the doctor says I have good news, it is benign, it is a false reading, or there is nothing broken or there is nothing wrong, you just have a light sprain or whatever the case may be.  So, that brings great joy to you if you have ever been in that situation. It is an amazing feeling to have after you have been waiting and waiting, and pining, and maybe distressing and worrying about the worse case scenario, and typically what we sometimes think about, you are nervous, but thankfully you get this great news.  Well, that is what the angel was telling the shepherds here:

… Fear not: for, behold, …

Remember in Luke 2 we read, go back to Luke 2, if you are not already back there. What did the angel say?

… Fear not: …

Because they were afraid, the light was shining down upon them, they knew they were sinners, their sins was exposed before God:

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

So, the angel was telling them, do not fear (like the doctor coming in, it is OK, the problem you thought you had is going to be resolved we have an answer for it). Because the angel said here, I bring you good news, that word tidings means, news, good news, great joy. In other words, it is good news, be joyful now:

… which shall be to all people.

Well, the problem that they thought they had, it was not a medical situation when they were in the hospital, but their problem was Romans 6:23 which is:

… the wages of sin is death; …

You are right Marshall, “the wages of sin is death,” and therefore when you are reminded of that whether it was the people of Israel when the tables of the testimony, the ten commandments were brought down, and they saw that, and they saw the shining of Moses’ face and they were afraid; or whether it was the shepherds here, with the angel the glory of God shining down:

… the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

When we talk about Christmas “gifts” that word just flows. Throughout the month of December, people are buying gifts, receiving gifts, and giving gifts to other people. It is interesting how the Bible puts that to us:

For the wages of sin is death; …

In Romans 6:23:

… but …

The angel understood why they were afraid:

… the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Ready to announce the birth of this Messiah, so that is why the angel is telling the shepherds, do not fear, it is right, I understand why you are afraid. In other words, you should be, the glory of God shone round about them, they were afraid.

… but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

And that is a beautiful gift, and that is why the angel said this is good news of great joy. You should be very joyful because instead of dying, and being no more, you have eternal life where you were created to live forever, now you can get that because the Messiah, Jesus Christ our Lord, is here.  And just look at a couple of things the angel followed that great news with, in verse 11:

For unto you is born this day …

Now notice the word “you” there, “unto you” that is a very personal word and I want you to just look at that, and think about that maybe later today, or even right now while you are listening, “unto you” you have to think about that for yourself. Is that gift mine? Do I have that gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord?  Because the angel said:

… which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day …

And if your sins are not covered, that gift is not to you, that is something you are not going to be able to enjoy.  You will not have eternal life.  So yes, it was something that was done for mankind, for he said in verse 10:

… which shall be to all people.

But in verse 11 the angel said:

For unto you is born this day …

So, “you” should ask God, pleading for mercy, for that great gift.  That is the gift I would ask for this Christmas, Lord have mercy on me!  I am a sinner, I am afraid the light is shining down and all my sins are exposed before you, I cannot hide them, but that is the gift I want more than anything else, more than anything in a box that is wrapped up, I want the gift of eternal life. And, we are to seek it with all our heart, it is to be asked for, pleaded for. Ask God for His mercy that you would have that gift, because it is the greatest gift any man or woman or child could ever have, and that is the gift you should focus on talking about in your families this Christmas, more than anything else, the gift of eternal life.  That is what it means, we talk about the gift of Jesus. But what is it?  The gift is Romans 6:23:

… but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The gift “is eternal life,” Jesus Christ is the One who brings it, and that is the thing to talk about in your families this Christmas. For the Bible then says in verse 11, the angel said:

For unto you is born this day …

This day,” and that reminds me of Psalm 118:24:

This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

So you see, “this day,” is a day of great rejoicing. That is why the angel said in verse 10, this is great joy, this news should bring great joy to you.  The Psalmist said the same thing in Psalm 118:

This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

So, rejoice in that it is a wonderful gift, it is the greatest gift ever.  So then we read in verse 11:

For unto you is born this day in the city of David …

Where was the city of David?  What is the city of David?  Let us go to 2 Samuel 5, and see.  2 Samuel 5 tells us in verses 6-7, in “the city of David”:

And the king and his men went to Jerusalem unto the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land: which spake unto David, saying, Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither: thinking, David cannot come in hither. Nevertheless David took the strong hold of Zion: the same is the city of David.

So, there we see the definition of “the city of David” was Zion, which in verse 6 was Jerusalem.  Even though Christ was born, as we know, In what little town was He born in?  Bethlehem, which was right outside Jerusalem itself.  It is just like I live in the suburbs of Philadelphia, but for someone out in Denver, if I am talking on the phone to a client during work and they say, “Where are you? Where do you live?” I say Philadelphia, even though I am a few miles outside of the city limits.  So you see, the city of David here is referring to the city of Zion, Jerusalem itself and in particular Bethlehem which was only a mile or two outside of Jerusalem.  The angel said unto them, this “city of David” there would be born a Saviour. A Saviour from what?  A Saviour means, I need to be saved. From what?  Well, what was the wages of sin?  Death. So that is to be saved from death, and no more being annihilated. That is why the angel who talked to Joseph in Matthew 1 said. What did he say to tell Joseph to call his name? 

… and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Because we see that “the wages of sin is death.” So this Jesus, He was called Jesus:

… for he shall save his people from their sins.

So that is why He was called a Saviour, to save from sins. And what about the sins? 

… For the wages of sin is death; …

To save you from eternal death, meaning that you would die, and be no more, or be annihilated on the very, very last day and be no more, if you are still alive when God brings the world to an end. 

It said there in Matthew 1:21 that, He would “save his people.”  There we are, back to that personal pronoun there, like when Enos said, “For unto you is born this day.” Are you one of his people?  That is a question, ask yourself this Christmas. Am I one of His people? And if I do not know, and if I am not sure, then I need to ask God for that greatest gift:

… the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

He came to save His people, and there is only a short time left to cry out for mercy. So do not hesitate to cry out for mercy so that you might be included as His people, in that great category of saints, as we now know is probably two hundred million people, (Rev. 9:16).   Cry out to God that you might be counted among that number. 

The angel said in Luke 2:11:

… a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

What does the name Christ mean in Greek?  Does anyone know what that name Christ means?  It begins with an “a”, anointed, the Anointed One, the Anointed of God, in particular.  An example would be in Psalm 28, and this is talking about saving. So we are right on target here with what we have been talking about with Jesus, who would be a Saviour.  That is why His name was called Jesus, He would be Christ the Lord.  Psalm 28:8 reads:

The LORD is their strength, and he is the saving strength of his anointed.

So, there we see that tie-in again, “the saving strength of his anointed.”  There is the Old Testament word for anointed.  The New Testament Christ means the Anointed of God, and Jehovah is the saving strength of His anointed, and He of course, referring to Jesus Christ who was the Anointed and Jehovah Himself, God the Father Himself is the saving strength of Christ, and of His people. You know the word Christ also means Messiah, as well as the Anointed, it means Messiah. And in John 4, we read in verse 25:

The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: …

So there is another synonym for the word “Christ.” 

… when he is come, he will tell us all things.

So the word “Messiah,” is also a synonym for the word Christ, as well as, the Anointed, and the Anointed is what we see over and over again in the Old Testament.  So, when you read that in the Old Testament, think about Christ, the Anointed of God, and the Messiah, the Promised One, the One who would ultimately come, who is pictured by the anointing of many of the priests in the Old Testament.  And finally in Luke 2, the angel said to the shepherds:

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

So we see another name for Him, “Lord”.  It is not “LORD,” but it is “Lord,” and in Greek, Does anyone know what that word means, Lord? There are a lot of different meanings, but in essence, it is a supreme controller and owner, a master, one with full authority.  So a lord, someone who is in charge of you, your boss, a teacher in school is an example of what today’s lords would be, a government official, a king, obviously, or a prince.  But anyway, it said that He would be:

… Christ the Lord.

In Matthew 11:25, let us see what Jesus said about this word, “Lord.”  In Matthew 11:25, this is what He is, this is who was born, and this is why they were to have great joy, this was good news to the shepherds and to all people.  Matthew 11:25 reads:

At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord …

There is our same word “Lord” in the Greek:

… of heaven and earth, …

So, there it means that Jesus Himself was acknowledging God the Father, because He just said, “O Father, Lord,” there is our word “Lord,” the angel said to the shepherds He would be called, “Christ the Lord.” But Jesus is now saying the Father in heaven is  “Lord of heaven and earth”.  So He is the master controller, the owner, full authority, supreme control over the heaven and the earth, but yet, Jesus Himself was called, “Christ the Lord” also with the same authority as the Father. And therein we see that they are one and the same people, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is another proof of the fact that Jesus Christ is God Himself.  So this Christ the Lord would have supreme control and authority over all things, and as we know the Bible says that is why we are to have great joy because He had control even over who?  Go back to the very first fear in Genesis. Remember the man who first feared in the Bible? The shepherds were fearing when they first saw the angel and the glory of God’s shining.  Why did Adam fear?  He had sinned and he was naked. But who made him do it?  Who enticed him?  Satan, and Satan had got control over mankind. But that is why the angel said, rejoice, I bring you good news, He would be “Christ the Lord,” after all the angel said about this the birth, “in the city of David,” “Christ the Lord,” this Jesus is going to have full authority even over Satan, who has unfortunately been too much of an authority over even you, because those shepherds were afraid, Adam was afraid.  Adam was afraid because Satan had won control over him and gotten him to sin.  How about you? How about me?  Where we have sinned, we have shown that we have been tricked as well, just like Adam and Eve were. 

So let us close with Romans 6:18, and really lock it in, because this is the reason to have “great joy,” if He is the Lord, He has full authority over all.  In Romans 6:18, it is beautifully put, in Romans 6:18 we read.  Now, before I read it, think again what the angel was telling the shepherds, do not fear, I bring you good news of great joy. And here is the essence of it summed up in Romans 6:18:

Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

So if you are a servant, the Lord over you is Jesus Christ, if you are a servant of righteousness, if you are free from sin.  That is why they were afraid that is why you should be afraid:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: …

When the glory of God shines down upon you, you have to be afraid, because He sees everything, all the sin in you, He sees it. But here we read, you are free from sin and you become a servant of the Lord who is all about righteousness.  That is the joy of Christmas that is the greatest gift God could ever give mankind because:

… the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

So it all comes back to the same words, the same synonyms for this great gift, and the Messiah Himself and God Himself, Jesus Christ.  May that gift this Christmas be your portion and mine.  Amen.