Luke 2:8–20: The Annunciation of the Shepherds
From all that we have read about Jesus so far in the book of Luke, we may safely draw two conclusions. First, Jesus is glorious. Two miraculous births mark his entry into the world, and the chief function of the other child will be to prepare the way as Jesus’ forerunner. Jesus will not only be a great one, but the great one in God’s redemptive plan as the heir to the throne of David and the holy Son of God. Second, however, Jesus’ glory is veiled. Gabriel announced the coming birth of Jesus to an unknown Jewish girl living in an unknown place. She was so insignificant in the eyes of the world that she could not even find a proper place to give birth to Jesus. Upon birth, her blessed son received only a manger for his bed. Luke, therefore, draws our attention to both the great glory of Jesus and to how concealed that glory is from public perception.
Why must there be such a contrast? Why must such great glory be hidden? What is God’s purpose in veiling the glory of Jesus in this way? Later in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus himself states, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will” (Luke 10:21). Jesus’ words suggest that God isn’t hiding the glory of Christ altogether; rather, he is hiding the glory of Christ from the types of investigation characterized by human pride. If we wish to see the glory of Christ, we must seek him with the humble faith of little children. In Luke 2:8–20, this principle becomes clear in the way God announces the birth of Jesus to shepherds. Here, we see that Jesus reveals ever-increasingly more of his veiled glory by his word and through faith.
1) What do the angels reveal about the glory of Jesus? What is the significance of Jesus’ being born in the city of David? What is the significance of Jesus as Savior? What is the significance of Jesus as Christ? What is the significance of Jesus as the Lord? How do the angels conceal the glory of Jesus? Why does God choose both to reveal and to conceal Jesus’ glory?
2) Why do both Mary and the shepherds go to confirm the word of the Lord “with haste” (Luke 1:39; 2:16)? What does this reveal about their faith? How might we seek to confirm the word of the Lord with haste? Why do the shepherds proclaim the word the received after seeing Jesus (Luke 2:17)? What does this tell us about the ongoing importance of the word in our life?
3) What kind of response is shared by “all who heard” what the shepherds declared (Luke 2:18)? How is the wonder different from Mary’s faith (Luke 2:19)? In what ways might people wonder at Jesus, but without true faith? How do we evaluate our own response to Jesus against true faith? How are you relating to Jesus in a way that may simply be impressed with him, but not believe in him?
4) What does it mean that Mary “treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19)? Why did she need to continually mull over in her mind and heart the word of the Lord concerning her child? What does Mary’s treasuring and pondering teach us about true faith? How well are you actually treasuring up and pondering in your heart the word of the Lord?