“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, New International Version)
Perhaps you’ve heard this story once or twice before. Linus recites it every year for Charlie Brown and the rest of the gang. Many families read it before they tear into their gifts Christmas morning. I’d guess you’ve heard it if you’ve shown up at any gathering of Christians in December.
Do you understand why this story is important? It’s the beginning of the God-in-the-flesh narrative. “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son,” starts here. The One who will die in our place is born! Good news! God has come to save us! He’s through with the alienation that man’s fall into sin inserted into His good creation!
How do men and angels react? With praise! From heaven we hear the angel of the Lord proclaim: “I bring you good news of great joy!” A whole host of angels joins in: “Glory to God in the highest!” The shepherds visit the child in the manger and return to their flocks “glorifying and praising God.”
All who heard of the baby’s arrival were amazed! And why shouldn’t they be? It isn’t every day that God steps in to save the world. People are supposed to appease God. That’s what every other belief system teaches. This God – the one who reveals Himself in the Bible – takes the initiative! He sacrifices Himself so men and women don’t have to suffer His wrath. Those who put their trust in Jesus, the baby born in Bethlehem, are no longer condemned! Those who have lived in rebellion against God all their lives can have eternal life!
How do you react to what Jesus did for you? Is your heart filled with joy? Perhaps you don’t understand. You were dead in your sins. You could not save yourself. You needed help. God came to save you!
How can you not shout and sing this Christmas? Praise God with the angels!
“Glory to God in the highest!”
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