I try to imagine what it must have been like for those shepherds who, we are told in Luke 2, were watching their sheep by night. I wonder how many uneventful times they had done this very thing. Watching sheep is what they do. Sheep must be protected….night after, boring, night. Occasionally, a wolf may come around, making for an eventful evening under the stars.
On this particular night an angel of the Lord appeared before them!
And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.
(Luke 2:9 ESV)
This night will prove to be anything but routine. An angel of the Lord appeared and the glory of the Lord is shinning around them! We know the story too well. We read over these words and think little of what is taking place in that field.
And so, I repeat to let your eyes read it again. An angel of the Lord appears and the glory of the Lord is shinning around them! Uh….Wow!
We are told the shepherds are filled with fear. This is a common response to angels and the glory of the Lord in the Bible. And, all of that is in and of itself…. stunning, spectacular and amazing. But, what the angel says next is perhaps even more amazing.
And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy… (Luke 2:10 ESV)
The angel is proclaiming the gospel – the good news. The good news is not simply a baby announcement like we receive from a friend. This is a baby announcement like none other. When was the last time you received a baby announcement from an angel?
But, that is not all. The good news is that the baby being announced is no ordinary baby. This is the very Son Of God!
What was that like for those shepherds? And, what is this good news?
The good news is not that God has come to be born in human flesh. Don’t misunderstand, this is certainly good news. We are told in Luke 2:12 that God, Himself is “wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”
But, there is more! The good news is wrapped up in WHY He has come to be born in human flesh. He did not come to wow some shepherds and a few others. Jesus came, not for a manger, but a cross.
Now, that might not sound like good news at all, especially from the perspective of God! Amazing, that God so loves us that He, Himself, views the salvation of our souls, by the means of His own death, as good news.
Perhaps, the birth of Christ would have been interesting news or even entertaining news if it was not followed by the death of Christ. However, it would have been bad news for sinners if there was a birth and not a death. The good news for us is that, not only was He born, but that He died for our sins.
And so, this is why the angel then says “Good news of great joy….” This is not just any ol’ joy. This kind of news produces a great joy!
When one realizes the purpose for which Christ was born, which was to….die! Then, one comes to know this “great joy”. It is a joy that rises above the circumstances of our lives. Though difficulties and challenges surround us, we have this remaining hope found in the good news of great joy.