"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." Luke 2:10-11 (Read Luke 2:1-20)
We know the Christmas story. We know that, in fulfillment of ancient prophecies, Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem and laid in a manger. But what does this historical event mean for us today? Is it just a quaint story to be repeated each year at Christmas time? Or, does it have meaning for us each and every day of our lives?
To answer these questions, I draw your attention to the announcement of the angel of the Lord to the shepherds in the field outside Bethlehem on that night of Jesus' birth. What did the angel say? We consider his words, for he bore the very word of the LORD God to the shepherds.
The angel of the Lord first said: "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people." After quieting the shepherds' fear -- and who wouldn't be afraid if suddenly, in the middle of the night, an angel appeared and the glory of the LORD God Himself shone around them? -- the angel said to the shepherds that he brought them good news of great joy, which shall be to all people. The message wasn't only for the shepherds, it is for all people. It is for you and me today! And, as the angel said, it is good news and brings great joy to those who hear and believe the angel's announcement.
And what is that good news? "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." On that very day, in Bethlehem, the city of David, a Savior was born!
The long-awaited Messiah and Savior from sin and eternal death and damnation had been born. The Seed of the woman promised in Genesis 3:15; the Seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who would be a blessing to all nations; the Son of David who would rule over an eternal kingdom; the Child promised in Isaiah 7 and 9; the Root of Jesse; the Ruler promised in Micah 5; the Redeemer of Israel promised in Psalm 130 -- all this was fulfilled in this Child born in Bethlehem.
And who is this Savior? The angel says He is "Christ the Lord." He is the LORD's Anointed, the Messiah; He is the LORD God Himself come into this world a true man to fulfill God's law in our stead and to bear the punishment for the sins of all and rise again in victory.
He is true man, born of Mary, that He might take our place under the law and fulfill it for us and that He might take our place under the judgment of God and bear our punishment. And, He is true God that His holy life and His innocent sufferings and death on the cross would be sufficient ransom for the sins of all the world. Cf. John 1:1-14, 29; Gal. 4:4-5; Col. 1:14-23; Rom. 5:12-21.
What does this mean to you and to me? Why is it good news to us? Why does Christ's first coming give us reason to rejoice and be filled with joy? Because atonement has been made for our sins. The just punishment demanded by God's law for the sins of fallen mankind was satisfied in Christ's blood, shed on the cross!
Therefore, we who were unacceptable and under the condemnation of God because of our wickedness and sin are brought near through faith in the shed blood of Christ. We are, through faith in Christ and His atoning sacrifice, acceptable to God, pardoned and forgiven. We have peace with God the Father and have been made His own dear children through faith in Christ Jesus. Cf. 1 John 1:7 -- 2:1-2; Ephesians 1:6-7; 2:11-22; Galatians 3:26-29. Indeed, you and I and all who trust in Christ can be of good cheer, for our sins are forgiven us in Christ Jesus (cf. Matt. 9:2).
Because God provided His own dear Son to be our Savior, we need not fear death. Christ Jesus died for our sins and rose again from death and has won for us eternal life in the mansions of His Father's house (cf. Heb. 2:14-17; John 14:1-6).
And, as the shepherds were filled with joy to know that God so loved them that He gave His only-begotten Son to be their Savior (cf. John 3:16) and hurried to Bethlehem to see the things which had come to pass, and also returned telling others and "glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them" (Luke 2:20), so we worship and praise our God -- joining with the angel choirs of heaven -- for sending us a Savior, for providing atonement for our sins and winning for us forgiveness of sins and life everlasting in heaven!
O LORD God, we thank and praise You for the gift of Your Son to be our Savior and to win for us forgiveness for all our sins and life everlasting in Your kingdom, and we thank you for revealing to us through Your Word the message of the angel to the shepherds, the "good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people," the good news that unto us a Savior is born, and that this Savior is Christ the Lord -- God in the flesh -- and that in Him, and for the sake of His blood shed for us upon the cross, we have forgiveness of sins and life everlasting through faith in His name. In Christ's name, we pray. Amen.
[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible. Devotion is by Randy Moll. He may be contacted by email at [email protected] More of Moll's devotional writings are freely available at https://goodshepherdonline.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.]