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Tuesday, March 17, 2020

2020.03.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 2:8–14

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom does Luke 2:8 introduce? Where were they? What were they doing? Who stood in front of them (Luke 2:9)? Around whom did the glory of the Lord shine? How did they respond to these two occurrences? What is the first thing that the angel tells them (not) to do (Luke 2:10)? What did he bring them? For which of the people were these tidings? What had happened (Luke 2:11)? For whom? When? Where? What is the identity of this baby? What did the angel give them to prove the identity of the baby (Luke 2:12a)? And what was this sign—where would they find the swaddled baby? Where did the heavenly army appear (Luke 2:13)? What were they doing? What is unto God (Luke 2:14)? Where? What is on earth? What is unto men?
Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Song of Adoration come from Luke 2:8–14 in order to sing God’s thoughts after Him with While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night.

The scene is different than many have been led to imagine. The angel is not in the sky. He’s standing before the shepherds. The glory isn’t around the angel—it’s around the shepherds. The angels are shouting more than singing, “Glory to God in the Highest! And on earth peace! To men, good pleasure (i.e., of God)!”

What brought them to such shouting? What event is accompanied by such wonders? A baby has been born. Who is He? Christ the Lord! This is strange. From the highest creatures to a helpless baby is a smaller step down than from God down to any creature, even the most glorious of angels. We do not expect the Lord to be a baby.

How can we know that it is the Lord? A sign! What’s the sign? He’s napping in a feeding trough. Almost certainly not a cave or a stable—the word for “inn” from Luke 2:7 is the same as the upper room where they had the last supper, and is almost certainly a guest quarters. There were often indoor animals in such a home, which would be kept in a room on the main floor with the family. Not ideal, but squeezing extended family from out of town into whatever parts of the house you can find is just about as old as families having houses.

So, what great sign has God chosen to prove that this baby is Christ the Lord? He’s in a feeding trough. And to what learned noblemen would this announcement be made? Shepherds out in the country. Strange.

And that’s just the point, for he way that God has decided to glorify Himself is the strangest thing of all. Men who deserve Hell are instead objects of His good pleasure. An earth that should have been made into Hell is instead a place of peace. Glory has come down—that which belongs in the third heaven has surrounded some shepherds, and will soon be beheld in the Word made flesh by all who receive faith to see it.

It is the strange illogic of the gospel—God displays His highest glory in the lowest people and places, so that the greatness of the glory will belong only to Himself. The angels don’t even need saving, but they are the first to give praise for God’s salvation. Because they are—just as we should be—preoccupied with the glory of God.
When you think about your own salvation, what place does the glory of God have in those thoughts? When you tell others about God’s salvation, what place does a desire for the glory of God have in that telling? How does pride compete against this desire?
Suggested songs: ARP45A “My Heart Is Greatly Stirred” or TPH438 “I Love to Tell the Story”

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