December 24 – Finally! Something Good!

Luke 2: 8 – 20 (NLT)

8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,    and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.”

Can you imagine Mary and Joseph as they gazed on this new baby boy in the dark, grungy stable? Mary had told Joseph an angel had visited her and said she was going to give birth to the Messiah. Joseph had told Mary that an angel had visited him too, and told him the same thing. Mary likely told him that Elizabeth thought she was pregnant with the Messiah also. But as they recovered from the birth and looked at this wee baby, were they wondering if this was really the Messiah, a special ruler sent from God? Remember how confused your emotions were after the birth of your children – exhausted and excited all at the same time. I’m sure Mary and Joseph were experiencing the same feelings.

I wouldn’t be surprised if many people in Nazareth thought Mary’s pregnancy was Joseph’s doing. I’m sure they told their families and friends about the angelic visits, but I wonder how many people really believed them. This whole story sounds so far-fetched. If I were Mary, I think I would look at this newborn baby and wonder if he was really who the angel said he was. But she’d know, she hadn’t had sexual intercourse, so this baby surely must be who the angels said he was. But if he were really God’s Messiah, would he be born in some stranger’s cattle shed? Can’t you imagine the conflicted ideas floating around Mary’s head?

But then … some shepherds show up and say that angel choirs had told them God’s Messiah was born in Bethlehem, and here they were to check it all out. I can see Mary looking at Joseph, and him returning her gaze. The thought that all this must be true would surely be flashing through their minds. They weren’t dreaming. They hadn’t made it up. Here was more proof that Messiah had been born.

God truly had become one of us. He wasn’t born to wealth, luxury and automatic power. He wasn’t surrounded by all the religious scholars of the day. He wasn’t part of the ruling Roman Empire. He was just one of us. Even the poorest most insignificant person could know that God had become one of us. But He also made sure that Mary and Joseph knew the truth. Life might be tough, and the circumstances of Jesus’ birth not what anyone would ask for, but God made sure the truth was confirmed for them. They needed to know that because of what lay ahead. But for now, on this very night, they knew they hadn’t dreamed it up. It was real. Messiah had come!

Let’s take another look at some of the verses in this part of Luke.

Luke 2: 9 – 11; 13- 14; 17 – 18 (NLT)

9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 
13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,    and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished.”

What an amazing message the shepherds heard! The Saviour, the Messiah, the Lord had been born that day. The shepherds hurried to check it out and saw the baby with their own eyes. I’m impressed they did that. They could have decided that leaving the sheep wasn’t a good idea, and just stayed in the fields. Maybe they left some young trainee there while they checked it all out. They didn’t seem to question why angels would tell lowly shepherds about a Messiah, or think they had been hallucinating. They were shaken and scared, but they believed what they heard.

What I like even better was that they told everyone around Bethlehem what had happened. They didn’t take a look at a baby in a dirty cattle stable, and decide this couldn’t be the Messiah – it just wasn’t grand enough. They may not even have realized that this baby would be the Saviour of the world. They may have thought the baby would grow up to be a Messiah who would lead an army and free them from Roman rule. But what they saw and heard and understood that night, they shared.

You may think you don’t know the Bible well enough, or you may worry about how your neighbours, extended family, or co-workers might react if you shared your faith in God with them. Don’t keep it to yourself. Be like the shepherds. Let those around you be amazed at what God has done.  

Our song for today is Gloria – Angels We Have Heard on High by Casting Crowns

3 Replies to “December 24 – Finally! Something Good!”

  1. Good Christmas Eve morning Audrey, thank you for your devotion to these devotions! A few years ago our study group read The Rock, the road and the Rabbi. It gives an interesting perspective of this passage of scripture that gave it a whole new meaning for me. Just as you write here, not the sentimental idea we had as children for sure.

  2. Audrey, Brittany & Becky,

    Wishing You & Yours, PEACE, LOVE & JOY as we celebrate the Birth of JESUS… our Ever Present HOPE!

    Love & God Bless,
    Rick, Dar & Family

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