Good Tidings of Great Joy

Luke 2:6-15 “And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.”

Like any other father, “The Father” of the Lord Jesus Christ desires to announce the birth of “his only begotten Son” (I John 4:9). Unlike other fathers that are limited with respect to resources, He has at His disposal all the resources of heaven and earth! At the moment of Christ’s birth, He dispatches “the angel of the Lord” from heaven to shepherds tending their flocks in the fields adjacent to the city of Bethlehem. Startled by the vision and the voice of the angel, the shepherds hear these comforting words, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy.” The reason the shepherds need not be alarmed to the point of fright is that the angel has an announcement of good news of great delight and gladness!

As I ponder the words of the angel, “I bring you good tidings of great joy”; I ask myself the question; “Is it true?” Are the words of the angel really “good tiding of great joy”?  When I ask the question, it’s not with respect to the truthfulness of God, but rather the condition of my heart. Has the cancerous traditions and the accelerated pace of the holidays made the news of Christ’s birth nothing more than a Sunday school story that I weary of hearing and would gladly substitute the reading of “The Night Before Christmas” in its place!

When you read the text of the devotional, while it was not audible, did something within you said, “What’s he going to say that I haven’t already heard a million time?”

What makes the announcement of the angel truly “good tidings of great joy?” The story of Christ’s birth is rejuvenated within my heart when I consider the subjects of the tidings, “which shall be to all people.” Sometimes a truth is greatly enhanced when you look at what it doesn’t say. The angel didn’t say, “Which shall be to the Jewish people.” Two thousand years ago when the angel made the announcement it included everyone because it was for “all people.” The good news is; God had everyone in mind!

The story is rejuvenated when I consider the substance of the tidings, “For unto you is born . . . a Saviour.” God sent what I needed! Bound in the shackles of sin, I had no way of freeing myself from the penalty of sin and the wrath to come, but Jesus came “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10) and “to give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

The story is rejuvenated when I consider the salutations of the tidings, “which the Lord hath made known unto us.” Like the shepherds, I’m glad I heard the “good tidings”, and I was drawn to Him! The word “good tidings” is also translated “gospel” in portions of the New Testament. One such case is when Jesus sent word to John in prison; “Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Matthew 11:4-5). I thank the Lord that I was privileged to hear the gospel; the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ!

What makes the announcement true in spirit as well as substance is when the truth reaches our hearts as well as our head! It was for me that the Son of God left the Father side, wrapped Himself in human flesh, and came through a virgin womb with the eternal purpose of dying for my sins! That is “good tidings of great joy.”