Welcome News From Heaven
“There were shepherds in that region, out in the open, keeping a night watch around their flock. An angel of the Lord stood in front of them. The glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. ‘Don’t be afraid,’ the angel said to them. ‘Look: I’ve got good news for you, news which will make everybody very happy. Today a saviour has been born for you—the Messiah, the Lord!—in David’s town. This will be the sign for you: you’ll find the baby wrapped up, and lying in a feeding-trough.’”Luke 2:8-11, NTE
“They were terrified.” Ever wonder why people have always been terrified by the presence of the supernatural? Many of the scariest movies feature something supernatural. There has to be a reason for this universal fear of the supernatural. However, if you consider just how profoundly sinful humanity is, it begins to makes sense that we would fear the supernatural. There’s a subconscious fear of the supernatural. That certainly includes a fear of any message that comes from God. Imagine there was a camp of rebellious subjects who had risen in rebellion against their King. How do you expect they would feel if they were to receive a messenger from the court of the king? They would certainly be afraid. What kind of message do you think we may expect from God, the Creator of the universe, for our rebellion against him? Those shepherds may have had good reason to be terrified, but the angel didn’t think so. “Don’t be afraid… I’ve got good news for you!” How welcome do you think those words are?
Notice that the most welcome news ever announced was not made to the Emperor, nor to the Jewish nobility in Jerusalem, nor even to the religious leaders. No, this news was given to humble shepherds who were “keeping a night watch around their flock.” God picked lowly shepherds. Shepherd were social outcasts, people whom society thought really didn’t matter. It was people that didn’t matter whom God selected to hear good news. Society thought shepherds didn’t matter, God thought they did. They were overlooked by the world, but not by God. That’s the way God has acted ever since. The angel’s words of comfort are not just for those shepherds. They’re also for us. God chooses those whom we would have overlooked. He blesses though we think are not good enough.
“Don’t be afraid… I’ve got good news for you.” And this news was very good indeed! “Today a saviour has been born for you—the Messiah, the Lord!—in David’s town.” The shepherds learned that the long expected king, David’s true heir who would reign forever, had finally been born! But, instead of following David’s heir, we have sought to rule ourselves and to be the masters of our own destinies. How has that turned out for us? We suffer much and inflict suffering in countless ways, simply because humanity is guilty dethroning God. But, the hope of those shepherds is your hope too—the hope that under King Jesus this poor sin-stricken world will at last be set right again. Everything will be put back the way it should have always been, including all this world’s injustice, its godlessness, its violence, and its crime. In that little baby, born in a feeding-trough, God himself has become one of us—Divinity united to humanity. In that child, God has become our king once again, and he shall reign forever and ever (Rev. 11:15). We find our true peace and joy by trusting Jesus who is “the Lord” of all. This good news “will make everybody very happy.” That includes you.
What does it all mean for you? It means more than a day to gather with family. It means more than tinsel, trees and decorations. It even means more than all those gifts. On Christmas day a Saviour was born into the world, a Divine Redeemer, One who upon the Cross died to remove the one curse that infects our humanity. Christmas means: You are delivered from the deadly plague of sin. The promise of a Saviour means you have been forgiven and delivered from the degradation into which we have all sunk. It means freedom from our slavery and debt to sin. It means we have absolutely nothing to fear from God because he is not an angry judge nor a vengeful king. He is your loving heavenly Father, who sent his Son so that you might not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). No matter how much you may think you don’t matter, you always matter to God. No matter how much you feel overlooked, God will never overlook you. No matter how distant you may feel from others, God is always near with his word and promises. Consider the depth of God’s patience towards us! Think for a moment of the boundless breadths of God’s compassion to us.
This Christmas may be far more simple than in other years. Yet, no matter how austere or reserved our celebrations may be this year, the “reason for the season” has not changed. The greatest Christmas gift is this wonderful news from heaven. Christmas assures us of God’s patience and compassion towards us in Christ. This welcome news is for everybody: men and women, boys and girls, children of all ages. It was welcome for those terrified and wondering shepherds. “A saviour has been born for you.” As we hear the angel’s words again this Christmas season, we know that they are for all the wide world, and, whoever we may be, for us.