“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. 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.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
‘Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’
So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 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. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them. And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called JESUS, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.”
The Bible says that life is like dust. However, God also said that our lives are more precious than anything under the heavens. The human soul is more valuable than anything else in the world. In some ways, life seems completely worthless, but in other ways, a soul is very precious. Like this, the Lord spoke of life in completely contrary terms. Although He says that life is nothing, at the same time He also says that it is actually very important. Referring to our lives, He said that they are more precious than the whole world.
How do we think of ourselves? Do we think that we are more valuable than the whole world? Of course, our lives and our souls are indeed more precious than anything else in the world, as the Lord said, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” However, when we look at our acts or thoughts, we don’t see anything that’s honorable. So it does seem as though we are worthless.
But what happens when we meet our Lord? We come to realize just how precious and worthy we are. It’s by meeting our Lord that we can realize our fundamental worth, recognizing how precious we are and how God has blessed us to be honorable beings.
The Bible says that our Lord came as everyone’s Savior. This means that He came as the God of salvation. That’s why we call Jesus our Savior and Christ. Why is the Son of God called Jesus and the Savior? It’s because the relationship between us human beings and Jesus is that between the Savior and the saved, and that is why we call Him Jesus, the Redeemer, and the Savior.
That Jesus Is the Lord and Savior Means that Our Lord Came to This Earth to Save Us from Sin and Fulfilled the Work of Salvation
Although we human beings were originally honorable beings, before the coming of our Lord, we were under wretched conditions. Although our fundamental essence was honorable, we were trapped in a quandary because of our problem of sin. So we needed someone to save us; a Savior. Jesus is this very Savior who came to deliver such people like us. It’s for this reason that we call Him our Savior. We call Jesus the Son of God as the Savior. My fellow believers, it’s extremely important for us to realize properly who the Savior Lord is and why He came to this earth. We also must grasp just how serious our problems are and how insufficient we all are.
In Korea, a dayfly is sometimes used as a metaphor to describe human life. Our lives are like the morning mist that disappears in no time. This, of course, refers to our lives on this earth. A dayfly is called a dayfly because it only lives for a day, and this dayfly ends its life at the end of the day. Born in the morning, by noon the dayfly has lived half its lifespan, and its life is over in the evening. God also compared our lives to a shadow (Ecclesiastes 6:12).
Even though dayflies live only for a day on this earth, they face so many problems and obstacles. It would be nice if they were born on a nice day, but what would happen if they began their lives on a rainy day? How sick and tired of rain would they be? They can’t fly around easily because of the rain, and when they try to find some refuge from the rain, they come across spider webs and insects preying on them. Like this, even though dayflies live only for a day, they still face much suffering while they are alive.
Our lives are like these dayflies. We are like the morning mist. Even the thickest mist disappears right away once the sun rises.
The Lord also said that our lives are like the wild flowers that blossom for a short while only to disappear. Flowers are beautiful when blossoming, but it takes little time before they wither away. The Lord says that our lives are like flowers, a mist, and dayflies. He compared our lives to such things, and this means that even though the purpose of our existence is honorable, we still have many problems. Just how many problems do we face in a day? How many more problems and changes do we then come across and go through in our entire lifetime? We encounter and go through many problems in our lives.
I often look at myself. When I look at myself, I realize that every day I need the grace of the Lord that has come by the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and that without this grace of the Lord I would not be able to live a decent life even for a day. From all the days, months, years, and decades that I’ve lived, I wonder how many days I really lived as a decent human being. I recognize that without the Lord, decency and honor are simply beyond my reach. My mistaken thoughts, many problems, and many enemies confuse my mind and corrupt my values, and many worldly things cause me to go astray. So when I look back on a day, I discover that I cannot live a new life without the Lord.
That is why I have to live by faith in the Lord. How could we ever live a new life without the Lord? The Lord calls us new creatures. He says that He renews us every day. How can our lives then be renewed every day? How can we forget all our past and begin a new beginning with a new heart, both psychologically and spiritually? When I look back to the many past events of my life, I realize that were it not for the Lord, my heart, my mind, and my body would surely have fallen into a deep swamp. So without the Lord, how could I ever shake off and escape from all these things to live a new life? It’s none other than our Lord who enables you and me alike to live a new life. It’s our Lord who renews our lives every day.
It’s written, “Old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” My fellow believers, it is because our Lord gives us new strength every day that we are able to lead energetic lives unlike in our past. Even though we ourselves, as dayflies, have not changed, our wings are still weak, our lives on this earth are still short, and we still encounter innumerable problems while living in this world. Our Lord solves away all the problems that we face every day as dayflies, so that we may live energetically. He has taken away all the problems that we, the dayflies, face. He has made light the burden of our lives as dayflies and He has taken care of all our problems completely.
My fellow believers, we encounter many problems as we carry on with our lives. Even though we believe in Jesus, we still face many difficulties. For those who don’t believe in Jesus, they are also facing many problems. We humans are still living with many problems. However, those who believe in the Lord can live a new life as their strength is renewed by the Lord every day. In contrast, those who don’t believe in the Lord are imprisoned in their past, and they end their lives mired in despair. This is the difference between those who have met the Lord and those who haven’t.
The Bible says in today’s Scripture passage, “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.” Every flock needs a shepherd to take care of it; it is bound to perish without a shepherd.
Do you know the temperament of sheep? Although they are very docile, they are also very stubborn animals. They are more stubborn than even a bull. Once they turn stubborn, they go their own way no matter what. They are so stubborn that they would walk right into a busy road, even if they were hit by a car and killed. Like this, a sheep is a very stubborn animal. It is also gregarious. But even though sheep live in a large flock, they cannot protect each other. No matter how many sheep may be gathered together, they are still sheep. Without a shepherd, they will all die. If a wolf comes by and snatches away just one sheep a day, a thousand sheep would be dead in a thousand days. Even if there are 2,000 sheep, a single wolf can decimate them all and leave none alive. If there are five wolves, it won’t even take a few days before the whole flock is slaughtered. That is why a shepherd is so indispensable to every sheep.
Here in today’s Scripture passage, there were shepherds tending the flock out in the field, and the heavens shone the light and the heavenly host descended. Then, a messenger of the Lord approached them, singing, “Glory to God in the highest.”
In the old days, angels often appeared before God’s servants or His prophets to relay the will of the Lord. Here too, an angel appeared before the shepherds and relayed the Word of God to them. This messenger of the Lord said to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. Listen to the praise of the heavenly host. Your Savior has come to Bethlehem, and this Savior is Christ. Today, your Shepherd was born in the city of David. The Shepherd of everyone was born on this earth.” The angel taught them that the One who would become their Shepherd was born as the Baby Jesus, and that this Baby was now lying in a manger. As the angel told them this, the shepherds could go looking for Jesus and meet Him.
Sheep are very stubborn and weak animals. They are like dayflies. They are so fragile that they can’t stand up to any predators at all. Some sheep have horns. But these horns don’t provide them with any protection. So you can see how easy it is to prey on such animals.
The Lord said that we are such sheep. He compared human beings to stubborn and ill-tempered sheep. He also drew analogy to many insignificant life forms to explain us humans. He said that we are like dayflies. Man is also set to age quickly. For me also, although it seems like it was only yesterday when I ran around in the field and played with my friends, I am already over 50 years old. I never imagined that I would get old so quickly. In my flesh, I am already looking at my sunset. Spiritually speaking, however, it wasn’t long ago that I really began to live my life.
How stubborn and ill-tempered are God’s sheep, and just how myopic are their spiritual eyes? They don’t see what’s far ahead. Instead they only see and graze on the grass that’s right in front of them. Even though they are nearing a cliff, they don’t know this, and they keep on grazing on the grass right up to the edge of the cliff.
That is why we humans, who are like these sheep, need a true shepherd. Jesus came to this earth as our Shepherd. Forsaking the throne of Heaven, He came to this earth to save us, to give us life, to enable us to live forever, and to solve all our problems. Do you think that Jesus came to this earth so that people could do some charity work on Christmas and put out the Salvation Army’s collection box?
Everyone can survive if his basic needs of clothing, food, and housing are met. But such things are not everything that you need. Your soul needs the Savior, and in your heart you must have spiritual bread. Everyone needs a Shepherd, the Savior who would solve all the sins committed with his heart or his acts, the weaknesses of the flesh, and all other problems. If someone is starving with nothing to eat, then it is the moral duty of the more fortunate people to help this person. But spiritual bread can be obtained only from Jesus, our Savior and Shepherd.
Our Lord came to this earth as your Shepherd and mine. It’s written, “‘And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’” The angel made it known that Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. This angel played the role of a shepherd.
The angel spoke to the shepherds. For the flock, these shepherds were its guides. The shepherds, on the other hand, believed what the angel told them, and went looking for the Baby Jesus and met Him. They spread the news to others that the Savior, the Messiah, the King of the Jews, and God the Creator of the heavens and the earth had come to this earth.
We recognize Jesus as our Savior and call Him as such. It’s absolutely important for us to know and believe in Jesus our Savior properly. If we believe in Jesus, then it’s also extremely important for us to know who He is. It’s also critical for us to examine to see whether He is merely a human being or divine before we believe in Him. Though everyone is free to believe in Jesus, it’s absolutely necessary to know Him correctly beforehand.
Jesus Is God Himself
Jesus is the Master who created the universe and all its hosts. The Bible says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
God made the heavens and the earth in the beginning. When God commanded to let there be light, there was light. Who is this God who created light with His Word like this? It’s none other than Jesus. Light came into being because Jesus, God Himself, commanded it to exist. It’s none other than Jesus who created this light. This Jesus, in whom we all believe, is the very Creator of the universe and all things. It’s Jesus who made you and me, the earth and the galaxy, all things both visible and invisible, and everything in the heavens and the earth.
Our Savior, God Himself and our Shepherd, was born on this earth. What kind of power does He have? It’s important for us to understand who our Shepherd is. Our Savior is indeed God Himself. No one but God is the only true Shepherd for us. If Jesus were just human, then He would not have been any different from us. But even though He is God Himself, He put on the image of man when He came to this earth. So He is at once both human and divine. Jesus has these two attributes at the same time.
Why was our Lord conceived in the body of a virgin? It was because He had to come in the likeness of man. To save us from all our sins, all our barriers, and all our problems, He had to personally come to this earth incarnated in the flesh of man rather than as God, and then take upon and solve away all the problems of humankind. Only then could He become our true Shepherd. That is why Jesus had to be born as a Man.
Who is our Lord? He is God Himself. Jesus is God Himself. Fundamentally, Jesus is the very God who made the universe and all things, and who blew the breath of life into the nostrils of Adam and Eve. God exists as God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and these three Persons of God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). In this Trinity was Jesus the Son of God. This Jesus became our Shepherd. The Lord came to this earth as our own Shepherd. All of us must grasp this properly and believe in it. Only then can we live by faith led by God.
The Savior was born on this earth. Jesus is your Master and mine. He is the Creator who made us, and He is also our Shepherd. It is to save us that God Himself came to this earth incarnated in the flesh of man and became our Shepherd. Isaiah 40:5 says, “The glory of the LORD shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together.” The Bible also says in Isaiah 9:6-7:
“For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”
It’s said here that a Son was born unto us, the government was upon His shoulder, and His name is Wonderful, Counselor, and Mighty God. Through the Prophet Isaiah in the Old Testament, God had prophesied, “A Son will be born unto you. I Myself will be born as the Baby Jesus to become your Shepherd.” A Son was born unto us, and the government was upon His shoulder. Who has the authority to rule in Heaven and on earth? It’s God who has this authority. It’s Jesus who has it. This authority belongs to our Lord, who has become our Savior and our Shepherd. The government here refers to the authority to rule. Who has all this authority? Our Lord has it. Jesus Himself said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). This clearly shows that all authority belongs to our Lord. His name is Wonderful and Counselor. The word wonderful here refers to something that’s utterly amazing and marvelous. The very fact that the Creator became a creature is itself amazing and marvelous.
Let’s say that we created a dayfly. You and I would be very fond of this dayfly that we created. But the dayfly has many problems. However, because there can’t be any sin in us, we cannot tolerate any sin. The dayfly, in contrast, has too many sins. Yet this dayfly worships something else instead of believing in us. Let’s say that even though we created the dayfly sinless in its origin, it changed in the course of its life and is now committing such sins. So we became dayflies ourselves because we loved the dayfly too much, to save this dayfly. If we were to thus become dayflies, how amazing and marvelous would it be?
My fellow believers, even if we really loved this dayfly of our making, could we ourselves become dayflies? Is there any duty for God to become a creature? How can the perfect One become an insufficient man? This is the same as a human being becoming a maggot. It is that amazing and marvelous. The fact that God has become our Shepherd is such an amazing thing. That is just how much God loved us sinners. God is truly the God of love.
God loved the world so much like this. The Bible also called Jesus Counselor, and the Counselor here implies wisdom. What then, did God have to do to save us from all our sins and all our problems? A Korean proverb says that to catch a tiger, one must go into the tiger’s den. Like this saying, as the Creator loved us humans, to save us all, He Himself had to become a Man. In other words, by becoming a Man, God Himself took upon all the curses of the human race, all its worries, all its obstacles, and all its flaws, and He was condemned for them all, thereby saving us. This is the Lord’s wisdom. A counselor is someone who tries to find a solution for someone else’s problem.
What then is your problem and mine? Weakness is our problem. The problem with us is that we are too weak. Sin is our problem, as are evil thoughts and wrongdoings. Even though we know the will of God, we are too weak to live according to this will. Our lineage, our species as human beings, is also a problem. Species does not change. Even if someone acts like a chimpanzee, this person doesn’t change into a chimp. Gorillas and chimps look alike, but a gorilla is a gorilla and a chimpanzee is a chimpanzee. Although there are various races from Africans to Asians and Caucasians, a human being is still a human being.
Like this, because the human race created by God was fundamentally flawed as a species, to solve this problem, Jesus, God Himself, personally became a Man. “I love these people whom I made, so I must solve all their problems.” God had become a Man because He loved us so much. If God had said this just in words, then it would be hard to believe. But He not only said it in words, He actually became a Man and saved us. That is why Jesus was conceived in the body of a virgin. “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” It was to be with us that God was conceived in the body of a virgin, stayed in her womb for nine months, put on the flesh, and was born from the virgin’s body. Our Lord had to be born as a Man like this in order to put on the same human flesh as ours.
God became a Man because He saw that it was necessary. That’s why our Lord was born on this earth. On the eighth day from His birth, our Lord was circumcised and offered a sacrifice to God according to the Law, and when He turned 30, He took upon Himself all our sins. Having thus taken upon everyone’s sins through His baptism, He then had to die on the Cross for these sins.
The Bible says, “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” Because we are lacking, we have to be judged by God, and because we are sinful, we have to die. However, Jesus bore all ours sins through His baptism and died in our place. Having thus died once, He raised His dead body back to life. By doing so, He has made it possible for whoever believes in Him to never die but receive eternal life. This is the very wisdom of the Lord.
My fellow believers, you must meet the true Shepherd who is your Savior. We must find Jesus, the amazing God who is the Counselor and truly wise, who came to this earth incarnated in the flesh in order to save us, and who took this method of salvation to deliver us. Like the shepherds here, we must believe in the Word, go to Him and meet Him. As the shepherds went looking for the Lord, they believed that Jesus, even though He was just a Baby then, was the very Savior of mankind who would solve all its problems of sins, save it from all curses and destruction, and solve all its weaknesses, barriers, and worries. They were saved by thus believing in this Savior, their Shepherd.
Who went to see the Baby Jesus? When the Baby Jesus was born on this earth, through whom did we realize that this Jesus is our Shepherd? We realized it by hearing the words of the angels that descended from Heaven. How did we know that Jesus is the true Savior? It was through the prophecies that God made through such prophets of the Old Testament as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Micah. Through the prophecies of these servants of God, we were able to realize that Jesus is none other than our Messiah and our Shepherd.
The gist of today’s sermon given on the occasion of this Christmas is that our Lord was born on this earth to become the Shepherd of sinners. We are the flock that needs the Shepherd desperately. The Lord embraces us into His arms through the services of His servants. This means that the servants of God are the small shepherds to every one of us. If we follow the Shepherd along with the guidance of the small shepherds, we can attain everlasting life, receive the remission of sins, and get all our problems solved. This is the meaning of Christmas, the purpose for which the Lord came to this earth.
We Must Meet the Shepherd
The Bible says that people are robbed because they do not have the Shepherd. Why do people suffer? Why are they now struggling with so many problems? It’s because they have not met the Shepherd. When they meet the Shepherd, all these problems will be solved one by one. The true Shepherd leads the flock to the right path, protects them, feeds them, and guides them to the still waters to find true rest. The true Shepherd does not send His flock to the edge of the cliff, nor sells them, nor slaughters them. None of these is what the true Shepherd does.
The sheep can live only if they meet the Shepherd. However, right now countless people are going astray each in his own way, as they do not have the Shepherd. You may be determined to work hard and succeed in your chosen area, but you cannot reach your goal as completely as you think or resolve yourself. The flock may be okay for a day or two even without the Shepherd, but sooner or later, they will fall prey. Every sheep needs the Shepherd. It’s because of the lack of the Shepherd that the sheep bleed, get injured, and live in suffering.
My fellow believers, on this Christmas, I want you all to really recognize the shepherds, who are the servants of the Lord. Whether saved or not, we all need the shepherds. We will perish without Jesus and His shepherds. Some of you may ask, “How can I trust in my pastor and rely on him when he and I are the same human beings?” But God holds His servants steadfast without fail. Holding His servants, God makes them do His work and take care of His people, and God gives them strength, power, and blessings. When we thus listen to the servants of God and follow them, God solves away all our problems and fulfills all His works. Our Lord is the Chief Shepherd.
Our God does all these things through His shepherds. A sheep is a sheep no matter how gifted and strong it may be. It needs a shepherd. Yet in this world, there are so many people calling themselves shepherds. Too many people claim to be shepherds when they themselves have not even met the Lord, and like wolves, these people use the flock to fill their own bellies and devour them all. This world is filled with so many false shepherds. They are nothing more than fraudulent vendors.
We all know that we should practice virtue, but can we really do good deeds as we wish? No, we can’t do this even when we try. Human beings cannot even solve their own problems. A true shepherd heals the wounds of the sheep and admonishes them to fulfill their entrusted tasks when they have enough strength to carry them out. When the sheep are dying from their wounds, it’s completely nonsense to say that they will be rewarded if they do good deeds even in such a situation.
You must meet a true shepherd. The Bible says that you can meet the Lord only if you meet a true shepherd and are led by him. On this Christmas, I ponder about the meaning of the fact that our Lord has become the Chief Shepherd and our true Savior. However, it’s also important for the sheep to meet the proper little shepherds to meet the Chief Shepherd through them. You can attain life only if you meet the true Shepherd and His little shepherds.
Our Lord came to this earth to become our Shepherd. He was born on this earth to become your Shepherd and mine. Even now, our Lord wants to become Shepherd to all the lost sheep. He desires them to listen to the little shepherds, that is, His servants, to be led to the true Shepherd.
On this Christmas, rather than looking for the Lord only in words, we must realize that we have met our Lord through His servants, His little shepherds. We should also realize that without these little shepherds, we would not have met the Chief Shepherd. Everyone must meet the Chief Shepherd through these small shepherds, and through them everyone must be led by the Lord. If there are any souls that still have not met the Lord, they must carefully discern who the shepherd is that truly cares about them and leads them the right way. They must also listen to the words of this true shepherd. Only then can they, through this guidance, meet our Lord who has become the true Shepherd of the flock, receive the blessings of everlasting life, and solve all their problems. The real purpose and meaning of Christmas is finding the Shepherd. You must meet the true Shepherd.
The true Chief Shepherd is our Lord. Those on this earth who are called by God to be used by Him are His shepherds. Our Lord works and fulfills His will through these shepherds. Through an angel, He made it known to the shepherds watching over their flock that He had come to this earth as the Chief Shepherd, and through the shepherds, He made it known to everyone around the whole world. Our Lord has also saved us, solved all our problems, made it known to us that He has become our true Shepherd, and made us believe in Jesus.
Therefore, realizing this will and accepting it by faith, we must follow the Lord in thanksgiving, remembering what the Lord said to us. We should all thus receive and enjoy everything given by the Lord, and then go to the Kingdom of Heaven and live forever. I hope and pray that you would get all your problems solved by meeting our Lord, and I pray to our Lord to give such blessings to you and me.