Sermon on the Gospel According to Luke | O Holy Night | Luke 2:15-20

O Holy Night (Luke 2:15-20)

Since I wasn’t working before I moved here, I didn’t bother with setting an alarm. About 8:30 one morning, I was sound asleep when my phone rang, and the screen said the school where Tammy worked was calling. I immediately answered with a lump in my throat, and Tammy was on the other line. I breathed a huge sigh of relief until she said that Wil had been involved in an accident and needed me.

Understand that it takes a fair amount of coffee to wake me up in the morning, but how much do you think I needed that morning? I jumped up, threw some dirty clothes on, and raced over to where Tammy told me the accident had occurred. Wil had been on his way to school and hit a patch of black ice and went in the ditch. Nothing major, but I didn’t have trouble waking up and getting to Wilson in a hurry.

I’m sure you, too, have needed to act in a hurry. Did your child ever need stitches or break a bone—how much time did you waste getting him or her to the ER? When you got the call that you were about to be a grandparent, did you wait around or did you get to the hospital as quickly as possible? Have you ever forgotten something in the oven, but you rushed to it when you smelled your dinner burning? Did you ever have a plumbing emergency—a toilet overflowing or a faucet that wouldn’t shut off—did you sit around and watch water flow everywhere or did you do something about it?

Once the shepherds heard about Jesus’s birth, they did something about it. The Greek Luke used in this morning’s text makes clear that the shepherds wasted no time springing into action to find Jesus. Their example makes clear: “Jesus calls for action.

Scripture (Luke 2:15-20)

verse 15:

The angels left, and the shepherds said to each other, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” “Let us go over” in the Greek means “Let us go over right now!” What the shepherds really said was that they needed to stop what they were doing, forget about the sheep, and get to Bethlehem so that they could see what the Lord had made known to them.

verse 16:

The shepherds went “with haste” and found Mary, Joseph, and the Baby. You could translate the Greek for “with haste” as “They came in a hurry.” They wasted no time getting to Jesus. Bethlehem was so small that the shepherds could have quickly found the Child the angels described.

verse 17-18:

Once the shepherds saw Mary, Joseph, and the Babe in the manger, “they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.” Notice Luke’s wording carefully—the shepherds didn’t tell people what they had seen but what the angel had told them. In sharing the great news, the shepherds emphasized the word of God from the angel’s mouth.

People in that era expected the Messiah to appear just any day, and they must have wondered if perhaps that Child lying in the manger could truly be the Christ.

verse 19:

The idea in Greek is that Mary stored all these events in her heart to examine carefully later. She had been through a lot, and she would need time to sort everything out in her own heart.

verse 20:

The shepherds returned—presumably to their flocks—praising God for “all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” Again, Luke emphasized the shepherds accepted the word of God from the angel—“as it had been told them.”


Once they heard the blessed news from an angel, the shepherds sprang into action to find Jesus. They teach you that “Jesus calls for action.” Because Jesus came into this world and died for you, you must act.

Be a person of action. “Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger” (Prov 19:15). “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” (Eccl 9:10). You must “not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Heb 6:12). Those texts do speak of physical labor, but the principle applies—you act.

Because “Jesus calls for action,” the shepherds acted, and you need to act just as they did.

You need to Arrive.

Once they heard the good news, the shepherds went to Bethlehem and arrived at the place where Jesus was. You, too, need to Arrive—you need to know Jesus.

The angel told the shepherds precisely how they could find Jesus in Bethlehem among the different stables. Granted, there were likely only a handful of stables in Bethlehm, but they still had to search.

You must search for the real Jesus. Just like Jesus said, false christs have come; the Lord said that shortly after his departure false christs would come: “False christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect” (Matt 24:24).

Yes, our Lord spoke about people claiming to be the christ around the time Jersualem was destroyed, but we have a multitude of false christs today. Some will preach that Jesus just wants you to be happy and wealthy. Some will preach that Jesus will save you regardless of how you live. Some will preach that Jesus will save you if you simply pray and ask him to come into your heart.

You need to make sure that you Arrive at the true Christ who reigns at God’s right hand. You can only do that through the word of God: Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me” (Jn 5:39). Spend time in the Book to make sure you Arrive at the real Jesus.

You need to Announce.

After the shepherds found the Babe, they announced what “had been told them concerning this child.” You, too, need to Announce what you know about this child.

Many people believe in a false christ because that’s what they’ve been taught. You have a solemn obligation to Announce the truth about the Christ. “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and whoever captures souls is wise” (Prov 11:30). “Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever” (Dan 12:3).

Shine “like the stars forever and ever” and Announce the Christ. Invite a friend or family member to worship. Pick up a tract and give it to someone. Ask someone to study the Bible with you. Whatever you do find a way to Announce the Babe in a manger.

You need to Adore.

The shepherds returned from Bethlehem, “glorifying and praising God.” You must Adore the Christ and give him worship.

The Christ is worthy of worship. When the eleven saw Jesus after his resurrection, “they worshiped him” (Matt 28:17). In the Revelation, a heavenly multitude said with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing” (Rev 5:12).

You need to Adore the Christ. When you assemble with the saints, put everything but Jesus out of your mind. Glorify Jesus and lift him up as you sing. Go back and look at the cross as you take the Lord’s Supper. Kneel before the Almighty’s throne through the Son as you pray. Do you honestly Adore the Christ?

This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at Church of Christ Deer Park in Deer Park, Texas.

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