“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” (Luke 2:8-20 NIV)
Imagine for a moment that you are a citizen of Syria and someone appears in your town telling you that soon a leader would come to put an end to your suffering. Or imagine you are a North Korean, struggling to survive day to day under the heavy hand of a dictator, and you receive word that soon someone will come to rescue you. That indeed would be good news!
The shepherds at the time of Jesus’ birth lived a very hard life. They were poor and on the lowest end of the socioeconomic scale. The culture found them of little note. Yet, there they were one night watching over their flocks when Heaven took note and delivered first to them the Good News of their Savior’s birth. When there is never anything even resembling good news in your world, even a sliver of something positive can give your heart a lift. But this was great news, and it was for them! This sent their hearts dancing!
I recall the old video clips of the French celebrating when the Allied troops entered Paris in victory over the Nazis. And images are still fresh of East Germans hammering away at the Berlin Wall in 1989 after hearing of the fall of their Communist government. Good news had come to those who desperately needed it and their hearts rejoiced.
For many of us, the Good News doesn’t generate a lot of excitement. We are caught up in living our own lives, and though we may acknowledge our need for a Savior, it lies there in our brain, far from our heart. Unlike the shepherds or the peoples down through the centuries who have suffered and have been desperate for good news, we often are very comfortable with our circumstances. But regardless, the desperate need for a Savior is still there because without Him, there is no hope.
Today, recognize the Good News is “good” because of our desperate situation. We are sinners, and apart from our Savior, we have no hope. As you celebrate Christmas this year, let that desperate need penetrate your heart. Then join with the shepherds and the countless millions down through the centuries whose hearts have danced when they heard the news: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”
© Jim Musser 2015