This week’s parsha is during the Christmas week, a holiday that is celebrated by billions of people around the world. Today, Nine-in-ten Americans (90%) — and 95% of Christians — say they celebrate Christmas, according to Pew research. While these figures have generally held steady in recent years, the role of religion in Christmas celebrations appears to be declining. The Biblical facts surrounding the birth of Messiah are no longer believed as they once were.
Two-thirds (66%) of people say Yeshua (Jesus) was born to a virgin, compared with 73% who said this in 2014; 75% believe he was laid in a manger, down from 81%. Today, only 46% of Americans say they celebrate Christmas as primarily a religious (rather than cultural) holiday, down from 51% who said this in 2013, with Millennials less likely than other adults to say they celebrate Christmas in a religious way.
In this week's parsha we read about Jacob's family coming to Egypt for food. In Egypt is Joseph, the son of Jacob, former slave, former prisoner and now in charge of Egypt under the Pharaoh. Jacob's family are shepherds. Joseph is a type of savior. He has suffered and now will be the one that saves his family and offers salvation to the world. Joseph's brothers left him for dead but he has been, in a sense, resurrected. The brothers who sold him and especially Judah are responding to Joseph by bowing down, asking forgiveness and being grateful.
Yeshua, also, was rejected by his brothers. He, also, was killed and left for dead. He,also, was also resurrected and the day is coming when his brothers will bow down and ask forgiveness and be grateful.
Christmas is to be a remembrance of his birth and subsequent life. Although this is not a biblical holiday and even has a past that was divisive among Christians, one thing all followers of Messiah can agree on is the power of knowing Yeshua.
So, in a holiday season when most people celebrate but do not validate by their lives the Messiah Himself, how do we respond? Take the shepherds approach.
1. G-d sends revelation to all: Luke 2:8-10
8 In the countryside nearby were some shepherds spending the night in the fields, guarding their flocks, 9 when an angel of Adonai appeared to them, and the Sh’khinah of Adonai shone around them. They were terrified; 10 but the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, because I am here announcing to you Good News that will bring great joy to all the people.
G-d always announces His big events and the birth of the messiah qualifies as a big event. When the birth was about to happen G-d sent word that the prophecies about the messiah were coming to pass. He told Miriam and Joseph who Yeshua was. He also told magi from Persia, and he told the shepherds in a field nearby.
2. Receive the Revelation: Luke 2:15-16
15 No sooner had the angels left them and gone back into heaven than the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go over to Beit-Lechem and see this thing that has happened, that ADONAI has told us about.” 16 Hurrying off, they came and found Miryam and Yosef, and the baby lying in the feeding trough.
Immediately upon hearing this news they went. "Let’s go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that Adonai has told us about and then they hurried."
One, they made a decision to go and see the truth for themselves. Two, they hurried.
Today is the day of salvation, when you hear the message of salvation, that the messiah has come, do not delay in accepting. Do not delay in running to him. Do not delay in seeking him. This is your moment.
3. They told the world: Luke 2:117-18
17 Upon seeing this, they made known what they had been told about this child; 18 and all who heard were amazed by what the shepherds said to them.
Has G-d changed your life through Yeshua? Then tell someone. We must become a voice of truth for the kingdom today. The world is getting plenty of dark and mythical messages. Our message is pure, truthful and light. Do not hold back on giving the greatest gift to everyone you know. The gift of the message of Yeshua.
4. They worshiped: Luke 2:20
20 Meanwhile, the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen; it had been just as they had been told.
The shepherds returned not to worship the child that lay in front of them but rather to worship the one true G-d and Father who sent this baby into the world. The worship belongs to G-d the Father and we should give honor to our King Messiah Yeshua. The shepherds knew they had been given a special gift. They felt the joy of having been the witnesses to the birth of the one and only savior of the world. They responded by bowing to the L-rd and celebrating His goodness.
Christmas is not a Biblical holiday but for those that celebrate I hope you restore it to a Biblical response. A Shepherd's response. Revelation, Reception, Proclamation and Worship.