John Strachan

Luke 2: 8-20

         I felt encouraged to refer to this scripture, which has been on my heart for a long time, as to the incoming of the Lord Jesus, and the lowly way He came into this world.  Luke gives us God’s approach to men and the lowly way He has taken is intended to make us feel that God has all men in His mind.  No one need feel excluded as we take account of this wonderful way the Lord came in.

         The reference we have just had to shepherds was of much interest to me, and my mind travelled to the history of Moses.  He had been brought up for probably about forty years in the court of Pharaoh in Egypt, but he had to learn to take on the lowly service of a shepherd for another forty years, to unlearn what he had learned in Egypt, and to get accustomed to what was good and profitable in the eye of God.  So the whole surroundings in Luke’s gospel relate to the shepherds.  Matthew gives us different surroundings as to the magi from the east, but Luke gives us these lowly surroundings of shepherds watching their flock by night.  And we get the angel of the Lord appearing to them, and he has got a message for them: “Fear not, for behold, I announce to you glad tidings of great joy, which shall be to all the people; for to-day a Saviour has been born to you in David’s city, who is Christ the Lord”.  So he has these glad tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people; this was the way that God approached men with these glad tidings.  The lowliness of the way that God has approached men has greatly impressed me in recent days.  I have been greatly struck with J N Darby’s poem, “The Man of Sorrows”.  

         Come now, and view that manger - 

              The Lord of glory see, 

         A houseless, homeless Stranger 

               In this poor world for thee.  

Another verse says:

         Oh, strange yet fit beginning

              Of all that life of woe,

         In which Thy grace was winning

              Poor man his God to know!

I think it is a wonderful way that God has taken to secure each one of us - and to be available for all men, for the world.  So they were told they would find this Babe wrapped in swaddling-clothes, and lying in a manger.  What lowly conditions the Lord Jesus actually came into: a Babe wrapped in swaddling-clothes lying in a manger!  Then we get suddenly the heavenly host appearing, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest”: that would be what was for God in it.  “And on earth peace, good pleasure in men”; I think it is a wonderful thing that this is the way that God has taken to secure His pleasure in men, so that men should be for His pleasure eternally.

         So these shepherds are immediately interested.  They said, “Let us make our way then now as far as Bethlehem, and let us see this thing that is come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.  And they came with haste, and found both Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in the manger; and having seen it they made known about the country the thing which had been said to them concerning this child”.  I would take it that would be the angelic message about glad tidings of great joy to all the people because the Saviour had been born.  So they were affected by this and I think it is right that we should be affected by this wonderful way that God has approached us: approached men, indeed.  “And all who heard it wondered at the things said to them by the shepherds.  But Mary kept all these things in her mind, pondering them in her heart”.  I think it is intended that as we ponder these things, our minds are useful under the power of the Spirit, and our hearts are to be reached, our affections are to be reached: Christ is to have a greater place in our affections.  So “the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all things which they had heard and seen, as it had been said to them”. I think it is very fine to think of the immediate response there is in the glorification of God. 

         Well, I think Paul must have been affected very much by this because he speaks about “overthrowing reasonings and every high thing that lifts itself up against the knowledge of God”, 2 Cor 10: 5.  I think it shows how Paul was governed by the thought of lowliness, and the overthrowing of high things that were against the knowledge of God.

         May the Lord bless the word.

From a meeting for ministry in Dundee

11th August 2015