Tidings of Great Joy

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. Many, perhaps even most, fill their Christmas season with quite a few cheerful activities: Christmas songs, Christmas concerts, giving and receiving Christmas presents, playing in the snow, drinking hot chocolate with marshmallows, Christmas dinner with family and friends. For others, Christmas brings back memories and, even with all of these joyful things happening, the season can be bittersweet.

 

Although Christmas offers many alternatives to bring cheer, you can’t really experience the joy of Christmas without celebrating the reason for Christmas. Over 2,000 years ago, God presented the world with the greatest gift of all – His Son, Jesus. His birth affected the lives of those who lived then and offers to change the lives of those now as well.

 

In Luke 2:8-12, the Bible says the following:

 

“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” (NKJV, Luke 2:8-12)

 

Shepherds were a simple group of people. They did not make a lot of money and did not hold a high socioeconomic status. But God directed angels to visit them on this holy, divine night. They were working night shift just to survive and meet their daily needs when an angel appears in the middle of the night. If this happened to us, we would probably freak out as well.

 

Fortunately, the angels came with good news to allay their fears. Jesus Christ, the Savior that all the Old Testament prophecies pointed to, had been born! And God wanted these simple shepherds to experience the joy of that first Christmas by seeing Jesus, the long-expected Savior. This Savior did not come into the world in luxury, but in a humble stable.

 

This story shares a special message for all people. It isn’t limited to the successful and intelligent. God directed angels to come to simple shepherds because God loves everyone and cares about those in need. Those who are most in need benefit the most from hope.

 

Shepherds did not receive the highest education, know the most important people, live in the most luxurious house, or eat the most luxurious food of the day. They lived a simple life, but God wanted to share good news that would change their lives forever. He did so by meeting them where they were and without condescension.

 

In Nehemiah 8:10, the Bible tells us that our strength comes from placing our joy in the Lord. I find it interesting that the angel came to the shepherds in the middle of the night, when people are most tired. I would imagine it would be quite difficult to work like this, day in and day out. But it was at this time that the angels told these shepherds the good news of great joy for all people, including for people like them. Jesus is alive, and He gives eternal life to those who place their faith in Him and strength to those who find their joy in Him. And the angel gave them a personal invitation to meet Him.

 

The good news that Jesus is born applies to us as it did for the shepherds. We may be exhausted in the hectic schedule of the Christmas season. We may be fearful about something like the shepherds were. But in this Christmas season, take joy in the Lord and give praise to God for the greatest gift of all – Jesus. He is the reason for Christmas.

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