8 “And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:8-14)
An unidentified angel suddenly appeared to a group of shepherds abiding in the field watching over their flock. What was the angel’s message which he said was “good news of great joy that will be for all the people?”
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). The phrase “For unto you” immediately refers to the shepherds, but also Israel and eventually mankind. “Is born this day” speaks of the reality of Jesus’ birth having occurred on the same day as the angel’s appearance to the shepherds. “In the city of David” is a clear contextual reference to Bethlehem. “A Savior” indicates the special significance of this child’s birth over against any other child’s birth. “Who is Christ the Lord” indicates the specific identify of this child: God in human form.
How would the shepherds be able to find this newborn child? The angel continued by saying, “And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12). The word sign (σημεῖον; semeion) means an event of a scene which has a special meaning. If the shepherds were to journey to Bethlehem to find this child, which they did, they would be able to identify Him because He not only would be wrapped saddling cloths but also He would be lying in a manger. An unusual location for a newborn child.
Puritan Matthew Henry writes, “The sign was to consist, it seems, solely in the overpowering contrast between the things just said of Him and the lowly condition in which they would find Him—Him whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting, “ye shall find a Babe”; whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain, “wrapt in swaddling bands”; the “Saviour, Christ the Lord,” lying in a manger! Thus early were these amazing contrasts, which are His chosen style, held forth.”
2 Corinthians 8:9 says, 9 “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”
Henry Barraclough (1891-1983) was born in Windhill, Yorkshire, England. He was educated in England, and studied organ and piano from the age of 5. He worked for a while as a claims adjuster for the Car and General Insurance Company. From 1911-1913, he was secretary to George Scott Robertson, a Member of Parliament. He then joined the Chapman-Alexander evangelistic team as a pianist, and traveled with them to America and remained there. He fought in World War I, then became secretary, and later an administrator, of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, 1919-1961.
He wrote 20 hymn texts and 120 tunes. His most familiar hymn arguably would be Ivory Palaces.
- My Lord has garments so wondrous fine,
and myrrh their texture fills;
its fragrance reached to this heart of mine
with joy my being thrills.
Out of the ivory palaces,
into a world of woe,
Only His great eternal love
made my Savior go.
- His life had also its sorrows sore,
for aloes had a part;
and when I think of the cross He bore,
my eyes with teardrops start.
- His garments, too, were in cassia dipped,
with healing in a touch;
in paths of sin had my feet e’er slipped—
He’s saved me from its clutch.
- In garments glorious He will come,
to open wide the door;
And I shall enter my heav’nly home,
to dwell forevermore.
Take time today to thank the Lord Jesus Christ for being willing to leave the ivory palaces of heaven and come to this world of woe in order to save your soul.
May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli deo Gloria!