Thoughts on the Gospel by David Joy

December 2014 No.215
Shepherds keeping watch over their flock
Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, Luke Ch2 v 15

Jesus’ Birth 
When I was a child, winter snow often lay on the ground for weeks and a large pond near my home remained frozen for long spells. Many happy hours were spent at the pond skating and playing ice hockey, even although my skates were home made.

I recall winter nights, when snow lay heavy on the ground, going to church services on Christmas Eve. I loved the story of Jesus’ Birth and thought I believed in Him but sadly I did not really know Him.

Dear friends, there are many who know about Jesus, celebrate His Birth but do not know Him. With this in mind, I want to tell you a story which I hope will take us to Bethlehem, where the Saviour was born.

Two Little Lambs 
During those distant childhood days, I had a friend who lived on a croft in the hills. One day he told me that a sheep had given birth, during a blizzard, to twin lambs, and invited me to come and see them.

After walking as fast as we could through deep snow to a shelter in the hills above his home, I saw the twin lambs. To me it was a miracle they had survived being born in the snow and a testimony to the diligence of the shepherd who had been watching over them.

As I think of that shepherd I recall the account in the Bible of some other shepherds who were ‘keeping watch over their flock by night,’ Luke Ch 2 v 7.

The Shepherds
These shepherds, too, were obviously diligent in the way they cared for their flock and were ‘abiding in the field,’ Luke 2 v 7, with them.

But nevertheless, when they heard the news that ‘unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord,’ Luke 2 v 11,
they set off to see for themselves, despite the importance of tending their flocks.

What the Shepherds Heard and Saw 
My memory of my visit to see the two lambs and some facts about it remind me of several things concerning the shepherds who had heard about Jesus from an ‘angel,’ Luke 2 v 10.

The shepherds had heard, like me from my friend, ‘good tidings of great joy,’ Luke 2 v 10. Like me going to see the lambs they had gone to ‘see this thing which is come to pass,’ Luke 2 v 15. Like me and my friend hurrying through the snow they went there ‘with haste,’ Luke 2 v 16

Like me when I saw the lambs which had been taken into a shelter, they saw ‘the babe lying in a manger,’ Luke 2 v 16, and, so affected by what had been revealed to them, ‘made known abroad,’ Luke 2 v 17, all they had heard and seen about the child.

Full of Joy 
The sight of my friend’s two baby lambs nestling in the straw beside their mother entranced me and when I was allowed to hold them I was overjoyed.

I think too, that the shepherds were entranced by what they saw and, full of joy at having seen the baby Jesus, returned to their flocks ‘...praising God,’ ... Luke2 v 20.

Seeking Jesus
Dear reader, if you have not by faith been able to yet grasp in your heart the truth concerning Jesus and  you want to know more about Him, then why not follow the shepherds’ footsteps. Like them, putting everything else aside, go with haste, ‘unto Bethlehem,’ Luke 2 v 15. 

May God lead you there, as He did the shepherds, and open your heart and mind to see by faith that the little child they found there was destined to be ‘the Saviour of the world,’ John 4 v 42.

It was this same Saviour who ‘knew no sin,’ 2 Corinthians 5 v 21, that was to become the sacrifice for our sins, that we might be made righteous in God’s sight. He is the same Lord over all ‘who is rich unto all that call upon Him. For whomsoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved,’ Romans 10 v 12, 13. 

Eternal Joy 
Many years have passed since those wintry nights when, in a snow covered church, I visited Bethlehem. And many more were to pass before God showed me that resting on what I knew about Bethlehem, could as much save me, as visiting the two little lambs could.

Friends, the hand of eternity will in time pluck us from this world. Are we truly prepared for the day of our ’departure,’ 2 Timothy 4 v 6?  Are we trusting in Christ alone for Salvation?  

May it be true of us, that God’s Holy Spirit has made us ’wise unto salvation,’ 2 Timothy 3 v 15, and enabled us, by faith, to believe the ‘good tidings of great joy,’ Luke 2 v 10,  concerning Jesus that ‘God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son’ 1 John 5 v 11.