The Shepherds’ Adoration

I had the opportunity last summer to visit Hungary on a mission trip with some of our recent graduates of our student ministry. We spent 7 days teaching English to a group of about 25-30 students ranging in age from 11 to 18. We taught about creation, the fall, the lingering detremental affects of sin and the Savior that came so that we might be reconciled to God. On the last day, we took the opportunity to present the Gospel and provide an invitation for the children to respond.

After taking the children who had responded out, discussing their response and hearing a couple of them pray to trust Jesus, I noticed some of our oldest students. None of them had come forward. The three that mostly caught my attention were named Yoji, Martin and Ishvan (at least that is the English phonics way of spelling the names!). All of these boys were 16-17 years of age, and the three with whom I had spent most of my time during those days.

I approached these guys in what would be the closing moments that we would likely ever spend with them and asked them why they had not responded. After getting little information in return, I simply asked if they thought that what I had shared that day (and the rest of the days) was true. I still received little in return, but I could tell that they really did believe it to be true. So I asked them what was standing in the way of them placing their trust in Jesus for salvation. I’ll never forget the look of defeat on his face, as Ishvan seemed to speak up for the three. After speaking in his own language, our friend translated, “I have done too many bad things to be saved.”

I have thought a lot about my Hungarian friends over the past days as I have once again read the account of the Shepherds in the Christmas story. As I have been reminded that the initial announcement of the Savior’s birth and invitiation to come and worship Him was made to these nomadic individuals, I began to try to visualize these guys in my mind. What I see is not a pretty sight.

I imagine a group of rough men that probably could not recall the last time they had a good bath. They were each probably a real ‘man’s man’ , in the real sense of the phrase. They had fought off the most vicious of beast in order to protect their flock. They had lived off the land and probably had little fear. While imagining the look of them was fairly easy, the one thing that I simply cannot imagine is the smell. I’m sure these guys had a stinch that I have never encountered. To put it simply, they were dirty. They were unlovely. They were gross. Yet, despite their appearance, their personality and even their smell, they were the ones to which the angel appeard that night. They were the ones to whom this incredible announcement and invitation was given.

You know, my sin is much like the dirt and grime that covered these men. My sin is an even worse stinch to the nostrils of God than these men would be to my own. Yet, despite my sin, God has extended the same invitation to me as the one the shepherds received that glorious night. Through that Baby, lying in a manger, I would be given access to come and worship at the feet of Jesus, despite the ugliness of my sinfulness.

God was making the extremely profound point that night that His invitation to come was for all people…no matter their look, no matter their smell, no matter their blemishes. God’s grace extends that far…no shorter.

I don’t know what kind of past Yoji, Martin and Ishvan have had. But, as I am reminded of the shepherds, I do know one thing for sure. They are not beyond the reach of God’s grace. No one is. Perhaps as you read this, you are one that has rejected God’s invitation to place your trust in Christ and be forgiven because you feel as if you have done ‘too many bad things.’ I pray that God would show you through the shepherd’s story that His grace and mercy extends to the vilest offender. All you have to do is repent (turn from your sin and turn to follow Jesus as Lord) and place your personal trust in Jesus as your ONLY Savior.

For those of you who are believers, I hope that this story will enlighted you as it has me this season. Be reminded that we are so undeserving of our relationship with God. We have been given access to worship at the feet of Jesus despite our sinfulness. May the joy that brings change our lives like it did the lives of the shepherds, who left the manger so bursting with joy that they couldn’t help but tell everyone with whom they came in contact about the Savior.

I left Hungary knowing that those three young men were still lost and helpless in their sin. They promised me that they would continue to talk about the things of God with the Pastor that we know there. I would ask you to pray for Yoji, Martin and Ishvan, that God would reveal Himself to them and draw them to Himself during this Christmas season.

May you have a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year!

I Married my bride, Erin, in 2003. We have 3 children: Emma, Elijah, and Lydia. I have served full-time on staff at Westwood Baptist Church, in Roxboro, NC, since summer of 2006 as Pastor of Students & Discipleship. I am currently enrolled at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, pursuing my Doctorate of Education.

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