Good news of great joy

Published 12:11 pm Tuesday, December 6, 2022

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       The Gospel of Luke gives us many details of the Christmas story. Luke, who was not one of the 12, investigated the events in order to write the account of the Life of Jesus. One of the individuals Luke was believed to speak with was Mary, the mother of Jesus. The birth of her firstborn Child was no ordinary event but a divine, historical occurrence and one that Mary would have cherished and treasured every detail of. 

       After making the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph ended up lodging in the stables with the animals because there were no rooms at the inn. The barn was not necessarily an ideal place to give birth but, nonetheless, it was where the Prince of Peace entered into this world. After giving birth, Mary wrapped Baby Jesus in swaddling cloths and the Lord’s first crib was a feeding trough. Such a humble and meek beginning. 

       Later that night, out in the fields around Bethlehem, there were some shepherds tending their sheep. Scripture does not describe the night so we don’t know if the skies were filled with clouds or if it was a clear, picturesque night. At some point in the night, as those shepherds watched over their flocks, an angel visited them. There was some type of light that accompanied the angelic visitation. Regardless of what the weather was like, this light would have come across as something abnormal. At this time, around 4 B.C., other than the faint light from a candle burning in a house, not much else would have been illuminated. The radiance from the angelic visitation would have been unconventional. 

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       The angel and light caused the shepherds to be terrified. The first statement of the angel was, “Do not be afraid…” Did this calm the shepherds? I doubt it. The angel went on to tell these herders they had brought “good news of great joy which will be for all the people.” As the angel continued, the heavenly being spoke to the herdsmen about how the Savior had been born that day in the city of David and then described the scene in which Jesus had been born. Once the single angel had delivered the message, many more angels joined together as a type of angelic choir. They proclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” With that, the angels vanished. 

       The shepherd’s adrenaline must have been pumping as their hearts were probably filled with excitement. Scripture tells us they went straight away to Bethlehem to see what the angel had described to them. But, what else must they have been thinking? They were herdsmen, who were not elevated in their culture, yet, God announced the birth of the Christ to them. Why had the angels announced the birth of the Savior to them? Who were they? What had they done to garner such a divine visitation? Who was this Savior? Were they worthy enough to stand in the presence of the Savior? They did not have a gift to take, would this be rude? Would the mother allow them to see the Baby or would she be overprotective and prohibit the lowly shepherds from any visitation? 

       The reality is, what they were thinking did not matter. God, in His rich love and great mercy, had sent His only Begotten Son into the world to bring salvation and redemption. Emmanuel came into this world, not in a high and mighty fashion with fanfare, pomp and the splendor of mankind. The incarnate Christ came in humble and lowly means in order to send the message to humanity that ALL are welcome. Regardless of a person’s social class, financial status, educational level, or any other classification society uses to categorize people, Jesus came for everyone. From the downtrodden and outcast to the snobbish folks who feel they are better than others, Jesus came to save them all. 

       Some today might ponder the same thoughts the shepherds did that first Christmas. Who am I that Jesus would come to this earth for me? What have I done to deserve this? Some may think, am I worthy enough to be saved? The reality is, God’s great love is the reason Jesus came. Not because humanity is worthy or has done anything to merit Jesus coming. The unfathomable love of God is the reason Christ came down from heaven and was born that first Christmas day. The message of the angel to the shepherds is still true today. Christmas proclaims to us the good news of how the Savior was born.