STUDY | Spend the week studying Luke 2:8–20. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.
DETERMINE | Many questions have been included in this guide. Read through this lesson to determine which questions will work best to encourage, push, and grow your group.
PRAY | As you prepare, pray for the preaching of God’s Word this coming weekend. Pray also for your time in this week’s study and your group’s openness to God’s Word.
LANDING POINT | The good news of Jesus gives me hope in all circumstances.
Remember the 4 Rules for Small Group Discussion
- Confidentiality. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
- No cross-talk. Be considerate of others as they share. Refrain from side conversations and texting during group time.
- No fixing. We are not in the group to fix each other. Jesus does that part.
- Sharing. Be sensitive to the amount of time you share. Don’t talk too much or too little. Every person brings something valuable to the group.
As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.
The headlines these days are filled with bad news. People are frustrated. People are concerned. On cable news and around the water cooler, our daily conversation reminds us that we live in a broken world.
We also experience brokenness in our own lives. Relationships that are in conflict, that sin you can’t seem to get over, incoming bills that keep stacking higher, a daughter who’s struggling in college a thousand miles away. In the brokenness, we long for good news to give us hope.
This week your group will discuss the good news an angel brought to some shepherds 2,000 years ago. This news promised joy and peace to the world. It also announced that God’s promised salvation had arrived. This Christmas God wants your voice. He wants you to rejoice in His good news and share it with others. The good news of Jesus can give you hope in all circumstances.
Q: Where do you see brokenness in the world? Give examples.
Q: How can good news give you hope?
Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.
NO ORDINARY NIGHT
Mary had just given birth to Jesus in Bethlehem. In that same region, shepherds were out in the field with their sheep. In the quiet evening, an angel appeared. The shepherds were both amazed and filled with fear by the sight of this beautiful creature. Then the angel spoke. “Don’t be afraid. I have come to bring you good news of great joy for everyone. Today in Bethlehem the Christ has been born. You’ll know this is true when you find him lying in a manger.” After the angel spoke, a choir of thousands of angels appeared and proclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth.”
READ: Luke 2:8–20. Split into pairs and retell the story to one another in your own words.
Q: Recall the last time you received really good news. How did you respond?
CELEBRATING THE GOOD NEWS
In a flash, the angels disappeared, and the night was quiet again. The shepherds stood there trying to make sense of what they just witnessed. Then, one of them said, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this child.” So, they ran as fast as their feet could take them and found Joseph and Mary in a barn, because every inn in Bethlehem was booked. There Jesus was, lying in a manger, just as the angel had promised. The Savior had arrived! The shepherds shared what happened to them in the field. Everyone was amazed. When the shepherds left, everyone could hear their shouts of joy and praise to God as they disappeared into the distance.
Q: What does this story teach you about the shepherd’s faith?
Q: What does God using lowly shepherds teach you about the way that He works?
Select 2-3 question from this section to answer.
The angel brought “good news of great joy” to the shepherds. Into a broken world filled with bad news, a Savior was born. The angel’s message gave the shepherds hope and a voice. Let’s look at three ways you can give God your voice this Christmas.
GIVE GOD YOUR VOICE FOR WORSHIP
First, the good news the shepherds received made them worship God. Their hearts overflowed with joy at what God had done. Worship is acknowledging God’s work and praising Him because of it. When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). Jesus calls you to worship God with all you have and all you are.
Q: How would you define worship in your own words?
Q: What keeps you from living out the Greatest Commandment in your life?
GIVE GOD YOUR VOICE FOR ENCOURAGING
Second, what the shepherds told Joseph and Mary must have been encouraging. Jesus was born in a barn surrounded by animals. These circumstances probably weren’t what Joseph and Mary had expected, given God’s incredible promises to them. God used the shepherds to encourage them in a real way.
Often, we can find ourselves in a difficult place in life. Life doesn’t play out as we planned. Things seem to take a turn for the worse instead of a turn for the better. Isn’t it refreshing when someone takes time to encourage you? We have a voice that can encourage the discouraged and give hope to the hopeless.
Q: Think of someone in your life who needs encouragement. How can you encourage them?
GIVE GOD YOUR VOICE FOR SHARING
Third, the shepherds shared the good news with others. You can imagine that, on the way back to their flock, they told everyone in their path what had happened. What the shepherds did is exactly what we do when we receive good news. We want to share it with others. Our joy overflows, and we can’t help but make it known.
There are people in your life who are desperate for good news. You have it. So, why not share it? It may be sharing the gospel story. It might be giving your testimony. It might even be as simple as praying for someone. Whatever it is, God has given you a voice to share His good news with others.
Q: How does it make you feel that God wants to use your voice to share His good news?
A VOICE IN YOUR COMMUNITY
Christ followers need to be a voice in their community. People out there are searching. They’re searching for answers to deep questions, for real hope that the world can’t give, and for a worthy purpose to live for. You are God’s voice in your community. Use it to worship, encourage, and share the beauty of the gospel with those who need it.
Q: Where can you take the opportunity to have more of a voice in your community?
Q: What does the church need to do differently to gain a voice in your community? How can you be a part of making that happen?
Offer worship and praise to God for His good works. Thank Him for giving you a voice to share His good news. Pray for God to reveal to you people who need to hear it.
Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:
Read Romans 10:13–17 and consider how this passage can motivate you to share the good news of the gospel with others.
Ask the group to share any stories or lessons learned where they see God at work in their lives.
Savior, Christ, Lord
When the angel announces Jesus’ arrival, it uses three titles to refer to him. “Savior” refers to what Jesus will do. He will be save men and women from their sin (cf. Mark 10:45; 1 Peter 3:18). “Christ” is the Greek term for the Hebrew term “Messiah” (or king). Jesus is the promised Messiah sent to give life to those who believe in Him (cf. John 1:41; 20:31). “Lord” refers acknowledges Jesus’ authority over all rulers and powers (cf. Matthew 11:27; 28:18). 1
What is God’s Glory?
The heavenly host declared “Glory to God in the highest” (Luke 2:14). John Piper refers to God’s glory as “the radiance of his holiness, the radiance of his manifold, infinitely worthy and valuable perfections.”2 God’s glory is a declaration that He is worthy of our worship and praise. The only proper response to God’s glory is worship and praise.
The First Evangelists
The shepherds could be considered the first Christian evangelists. They “spread the word” (Luke 2:17) about Jesus’ birth to everyone around them. What they shared amazed people and pointed them to God’s work.
1. Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 1948.
2. John Piper, “What is God's Glory?,” Desiring God Ministries, July 6, 2009, https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/what-is-gods-glory (accessed December 5, 2017).