An Encouraging Word

Who Did Jesus Come For? Part 2

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Thank you for reading our blog. Welcome to our advent series, “Who Jesus Came For.” Part two is about the Shepherds. Again, at the end of this blog post, there will be a challenge for you to share God’s love.

Scripture: Luke 2:8-20

“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.” Luke 2:8-9

According to Randy Alcorn, author of “Shepherd Status,” at the time of Christ’s birth, “shepherds stood on the bottom rung of the Palestinian social ladder… The same status as tax collectors and dung sweepers.”

Shepherding was once a noble occupation, however, during the time of the Patriarchs. The wealthy sons of Isaac and Jacob, for example, tended flocks, as revealed in Genesis 30:29; 37:10.

When the Israelites came to Egypt, they discovered a different way of life. Egyptians were agriculturalists, Alcorn explains. “As farmers, they despised shepherding because sheep and goats meant death to crops. Battles between farmers and shepherds are as old as they are fierce.”

Egyptians considered sheep worthless, their art and historical records portray shepherds negatively.

In the course of 400 years, living among the the Egyptians the Israelites’ attitude toward shepherding was prejudiced. “Shepherding became a menial vocation for the laboring class,” Acorn says. “These men could not fulfill judicial offices or be admitted in court as witnesses.” Some shepherds of course earned their poor reputations, while others fell victim to stereotyping. Self-righteousness religious leaders labeled shepherds as “sinners."

Yet, these lowly souls were the first to hear the Good News: “Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’” Luke 2:10-12.

Suddenly, there came a multitude of the heavenly host praising God: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

Ah what a sight that must have been. What a grand gesture, as well to these lowest of the low. During the Christmas story, God once again surprises us. He didn’t choose the supreme religious leaders or the elite class to be the first to know of the Savior’s birth. Instead, He announced the coming of His Son to the simple shepherds. Again, this was counter culture; a bold move. Makes you think.

Who are the “shepherds” of our time? Those in poverty? What about those with little social status but all the judgment – addicts, drug dealers, prisoners? Yeah, those people who are “sinners,” who we often don’t associate with.

Lord’s Gym Ministries has a mission to serve those lowly lost souls. Because, in fact, the “sinners” are why Jesus came, as He states Himself in Mark 2:17. We operate The Lord’s Gym at various times during the week at three locations, Covington, Queensgate and Price Hill. The gym is a weight-lifting, work out, and long-term discipleship program designed to teach at risk men principles to avoid destructive lifestyles while nurturing their relationship with God.

Your challenge: Come. Meet these men. Offer them hope by sharing Jesus with them. Visit us today at www.focas-us.org/get-involved or http://bit.ly/FOCASgiving. The results, you may find surprising. So many men have come through our doors broken and utterly lost. Yet, so many leave with Jesus – Who fixes their brokenness and offers them a safe forever home. These men are now spreading the Good News with others, just like the shepherds God sent His angel to.

"Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.” Luke 2:17-18.

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Guest Saturday, 18 January 2020