Good news! Great joy! For all!
At this time of year Christmas takes over. Everywhere you look glittery Christmas trees sparkle, decorations dangle, Nativity plays are rehearsed and shoppers bustle about looking for gifts. It seems that all our attention for weeks on end is focussed on preparing for one day.
To think about and prepare for Christmas is not the wrong thing to do. The events we celebrate were some of the most significant our world has seen. Ever! So significant, in fact, that the birth of Jesus splits history into two parts – before Christ was born and afterwards.
The first people to know about the birth of Jesus outside of his immediate human family were a group of shepherds. They were told in dramatic style as God provided an angelic messenger with backing choir to announce the momentous news: ‘I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people’ (Luke 2:10).
The news was, indeed, good news: ‘Today in the city of David there has been born for you a saviour, who is Christ the Lord’ (Luke 2:11). There it is in a sentence. News that changed the world.
The birth had taken place in the royal city of David. Following in the footsteps of the greatest king Israel had known, this baby was destined to sit on the throne. A new king had been born. But this king was more than that because He was also designated as a Saviour who would be called ‘Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins’ (Matthew 1:21).
But we read that this Saviour-King is also divine. He is the Christ, the Anointed One. He is God Himself, Immanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:23).
A birth is good news.
A royal birth is national good news.
A sovereign royal birth is global good news!
This news truly is good news!
The announcement of the arrival of the Saviour is good news but this inevitably leads to great joy for all those who hear about it!! The Saviour has come – this is good news of great joy!
The Hebrew Scriptures (our Old Testament) were full of promises about the Saviour who would come and rescue God’s people. He would establish and reign over a kingdom that would be identified by justice, peace and righteousness! Passages such as Isaiah 9 spoke of the result of the arrival of the Saviour. These included light coming to people who were in darkness, joy and gladness, God’s presence among His people, and freedom from oppression.
Ultimately, the freedom which the Saviour brings will mean people having freedom from the bondage of sin. People would be reconciled back to God and know the depth of the Father’s love for them.
No wonder that the shepherds upon hearing the news ran through the town glorifying and praising God and telling any-and-everyone that the Saviour was born (Luke 2:17,20).
This is truly good news which elicits great joy in people!
But this good news and the resulting great joy were not for a privileged few. The announcement says that the ‘good news of great joy is for all the people’. The news is truly world-changing. The promise God made to Abraham that all the nations of the earth would be blessed through him was finally coming about.
We see it in the nativity story. Shepherds, men who lived on the margins of Jewish society, are told of the birth. Magi, Gentile astronomers from a distant land, are told of the birth. Simeon and Anna, Jews who lived in the Temple, are told of the birth.
Jesus’ arrival is good news for all. Irrespective of ethnicity, social standing, educational background, occupation, economic status, or country of residence, this news was for you. The reason is that the news gives a solution to the condition of the human heart. The news deals with mankind’s biggest problem – sin.
The news is a matter of life or death. This makes it good news. It results in great joy. And it is relevant for all people.
So this Advent allow yourself to enjoy the preparations, the build-up, the excitement, and the anticipation. Prepare to celebrate.
But as you do, remember to get the word out: A royally divine saviour has been born. His name is Jesus and He brings freedom from sin. This is good news of great joy for all!!