“And the angel said to (the shepherds), ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you 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 2:10-11)
Most of us are very familiar with these words – so much so, that they often lose their effect on us. It has become rather matter of fact: “Yeah. Jesus was born as a baby in Bethlehem – and we celebrate His birthday every year on December 25.”
It is often so easy to forget the real magnitude of what the angel was declaring to those simple shepherds on that first Christmas night.
The world into which Jesus came was a dark and troubled place. Rome was asserting their dominance everywhere – and trying to assimilate everyone into Greek culture and ideals. Under Roman rule, the whole world was subjugated to the whims and notions of the Roman rulers – who were often consumed with power, debauchery, and pride.
The religious climate was no better. The Jewish culture was a tightly woven fabric of “do’s and don’ts” represented by 613 laws that every loyal Jew was expected to follow perfectly – or face the ire of Jewish authority. If there is anything more relentless than godless authority… it is religious authority – meting out unmerciful judgment for those who do not measure up to expectations.
This was the climate of the world into which our Savior came. It was not a place of much hope or future – as everywhere you turned you met overwhelming obstacles to life… and peace… and joy.
But it was into all this darkness that the glorious Light came. And the angel of God was sent to those shepherds to tell us so. And in that declared news, God was informing us of all the things that the Savior had come to alleviate.
First order of business… Bring assurance. Peace. “Fear not!” Take us from our deepest fears – and fill us with wonder. Sure, the shepherds were shaking in their sandals (as we would be!), but God’s first words address what always keeps us from discovering the fullness of divine life and truth. Fear keeps us shackled and separated from our divine destiny. God’s words through the angel meet us at our basest need. The need to know that God is actually for us… not against us.
“Good news of great joy…” Earth-shaking news. News that cannot be silenced or contained. News that runs straight to our hearts – and speaks of wonders and truths we cannot imagine. God “laid aside His godly privileges” to come and walk among us as one of us. And His life will bring His best to our lives. The news brings unimaginable and indescribable joy for those who embrace it. Those who believe in it. Give their lives to it. Jesus came not just to die for us, but to live for us – and to bring us all into the fullness that life in Him can offer.
“That will be for ALL the people…” No one is exempt from this news. No one is too far gone. Too broken. Too insignificant. Too great a wretch. The news is for every person. No matter your status (or lack of status) in this world..
“For unto you is born this day… a Savior.” Not a new set of religious standards. Not a new moral code. Not a bunch of new life-principles to live by. A Savior! A Person.
God came to live among us to make this life Personal. And in this Person is all we truly need. He is all we ever needed – and all we will ever need. He came to offer us life… and that more abundantly (Jn. 10:10). A life full of peace, hope, joy… and a future of an eternity knowing Him.
What the angel proclaimed… was indeed, the best news ever uttered…