“… I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11
What has been the happiest day of your life? On January 23, 2021, my daughter got married in a small masked ceremony in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. After the wedding, as I danced the night away with our immediate family and the happy couple’s closest friends, my brother hugged me and said he had never seen me so happy.
It had been a dark month leading up to the wedding. Covid-19 was raging. We had lost a friend to the virus just weeks before. My mother and father had contracted the virus on December 22. Since my dad is disabled and needs full time care, we had released his in-home caregivers for their protection and I went to serve in their place. Mom and I celebrated Christmas by calling an ambulance to take my dad to the hospital on Christmas Eve for covid complications and praying and waiting to hear from Dad’s doctors and facetiming our family who was gathered in Little Rock and Jackson respectively. Miraculously, Dad got better, but then there was much stress about what would happen if I got the virus so close to the wedding. I quarantined after my parents recovered, did necessary testing and we prayed for God to heal and protect so that we could all be healthy to have this wedding as planned, just weeks later.
As I read Luke 2:8-18, I think about the deep darkness the shepherds were working in. Living in the fields, taking the night watch over the flocks, they were accustomed to the dark. On just another ordinary dark night, something extraordinary happened: a baby was born in Bethlehem (the town of David) who was and is a Savior, the Messiah, the Lord!
This event is so stunningly glorious and spectacular that an angel of the Lord was sent to announce His arrival and a company of heavenly hosts joined this angel to sing praises to God! According to the Bible passages that mention angels, we understand them to be beings created by God for His purposes. (They are not humans who have died and gone to heaven as some assume.) The glory of God piercing a darkness these shepherds had grown accustomed to was not welcomed at first, it was alarming. But then God does what He does. He spoke in words these shepherds could understand that this is not a time for fear, but for rejoicing! In fact, the good news is that the time for fear is over and done.
I’ve loved digging into the specifics of what the angel said. First, I notice the word “you.” “I bring YOU good news that will cause great joy for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to YOU…YOU will find a baby wrapped in cloth and lying in a manger.” (10-12) This angel was talking to these specific men. This good news is for them personally and individually and also for all people, personally and individually. Then the titles for Jesus: a Savior - a deliverer, one born of woman to crush Satan’s head, the Messiah – the Christ, the Anointed One, the promised One, the Lord – supreme authority, the controller or master. And then the stunning reality, that Savior, that Messiah, that Lord… they would find him wrapped in cloths lying in a manger. The crazy thing is, this announcement was not that a baby with a lot of potential has been born who might finally do what no man has been able to do. No! The announcement is that the promise God made starting in Genesis 3:15 and repeated and specified throughout the Old Testament to send a Savior, the Messiah, the Lord is kept and His work is as good as done. It is not yet finished. Jesus had real work to do! But those angels were rejoicing because it was as good as done. It was the happiest day, that first Christmas. So happy that angel armies burst out of heaven to praise God with mankind!
My brother was probably right about my happiness on my daughter’s wedding day. In the middle of that dark time, God’s miraculous enabling, His way-making, was glorious. As Caroline walked down the aisle, I felt as I did when my son met his bride at the altar 5 years earlier, like millions of answered prayers were being heralded. At that moment, I felt the glory of my Savior, the Messiah, the Lord all around me. It was, for me, a foretaste of the return of the ultimate Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. At that moment, I could enjoy fully not just that we had a wonderful wedding day, but that the God - Man, Jesus has pierced the darkness and we could taste the sure and sweet glory of His redemption and the generosity of His presence and provision even in a world that is filled with trouble.
The good news is that Jesus is your Savior, have you received His deliverance from sin and death? He is the Anointed One, the Messiah who is returning to rule and reign in the New Heaven and New Earth for all eternity. Are you eagerly awaiting His return? He is the Lord, the absolute authority. Have you submitted your will to His today?
Jesus made His dwelling among us and the day is coming when He will bring His dwelling to us! What does that mean for the darkness you are so weary of or the darkness you’ve grown accustomed to? What would it mean for you and me to join the angels in celebrating what is as good as done? Death is defeated and God's kingdom is here! How can we live like this is true until we see Him face to face?
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Offices by Biblica, Inc.™