Luke 2:10-11- 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.
For centuries, the Jewish nation has lived with the promise of a Messiah. The prophecies were as real to them, as the Law which they kept. Every child, male and female, learned of the Messiah. They sat a place for Him Who Was to Come every year during the Passover. They learned of Him from their earliest of days, and now, He is come!
The shepherds are out with their sheep. This is truly another clue that Jesus wasn’t born in December. Shepherds typically stay out with the sheep during the warmer seasons, especially when they are expecting lambs to be born. This is not a hidden fact, it is easily discovered with an internet search. It is suggested that the shepherds would not have been out unless they were expecting lambs; however, I’m still leaning towards the fall because of Elisabeth’s pregnancy. Another reason is that these particular shepherds were not just out watching their flocks, but they lived in the fields, sharing protection and responsibilities of caring for their sheep.
As they recline for the evening, suddenly, an angelic being appears before them. Luke writes that the glory of the Lord was all around the angel, and the shepherds were greatly afraid. Not surprising, since most people were afraid when angels appeared.
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.Luke 2:10-11 NKJV
Isaiah spoke of a child being born to us, and here the angel of the Lord tells the shepherds that the Child has been born. Something had to be ringing in their spirits, resonating with what the angel has said in spite of the fear. Maybe their minds went back to that familiar prophecy:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be call Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.Isaiah 9:6 ESV
Most of us are familiar with this verse, but let’s go back for a moment to the preceding verses:
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil.Isaiah 9:2-3 ESV
Did you notice how frequently the word joy, or its synonyms are used in this passage. The people were walking in darkness, as a result of a sin-infested world, but now they have seen a great light! This Light has caused their joy to increase. They are rejoicing with the joy of the harvest. They are glad as those who have conquered and attained a great spoil over their enemy and can now divide the spoil! This is the language of Israel as it prospers!
When Jesus is born, not only is verse six of Isaiah fulfilled, but also the verses before it. The people of Israel has been walking in darkness. Historically, they have had no contact, no encounters with the God who had done so much for them. They are in subjugation to the Roman empire, living beneath their status as the people of God. Maybe the shepherds have been discussing their plight, wondering where the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was in their plight. Maybe they were rehasing stories of the days of glory when David ruled the nation. Maybe they are wishing for the day when the Messiah would come and deliver their people! We don’t know!
But what we do know is that an angel of the Lord appears to them and tells them that he has great news for them. News of joy for all the people! A Child is born! The Messiah is come!
And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”Luke 2:12 NKJV
The angel then tells them how they will find the Babe, and how they will know He is the Christ! Only one baby was born that night in Bethlehem, in a barn. After His birth, Mary wrapped Him in swaddling cloths and laid Him in a feeding trough. If they hurry, and they should, they will find Him as the angel described!
And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.Luke 2:16 NKJV
They found Him! They found the Christ! He had surely come just as the angel had said! They were so excited! They were thrilled! They were told by an angel of the Messiah’s birth and had been given an angelic invitation to go and visit Him while He was only hours new to the world!
Can’t you feel their excitement? What a beautiful experience it must have been for them! As they watched their flocks, they weren’t expecting anything out of the ordinary to happen! But they were given a heavenly display of the glory of God and invited to witness the Savior, the Babe that was given to us!
We’ve been given that same invitation! We too can experience the joy that comes with the knowledge of the Savior! What an impact that night had on the shepherds! What an impact He has had on my life, on the lives of so many others who realize that the Babe born in the manger, was the Man who hung on the cross for our sins! The real joy to the world, is that though the darkness may linger, we have experienced the Great Light!
We’ll look at the other event of this glorious night in the next blog! Please enjoy this rendition of Joy to the World by Chris Tomlin! Wonderful Jesus!