A wife said to her husband, “Shall we watch the six o’clock news and get indigestion or wait for the eleven o’clock and have insomnia?” The evening news is where the announcer begins by saying, ‘Good evening’–and you end up saying, ‘Good grief!’
We live in a world filled with baaaddd news. If there’s anything this hurting world desperately needs right now is goooddd news. Not only the world in general, but we as individuals need good news because their lives are strewn with suffering and sorrow. The Christmas story is not just good news, but the best the best news in the world: The angel told the shepherds,
“I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” ( Luke2:10-11.) The best news in the world is that Christ the Lord has come as the Savior for all. It’s Only Good News If It Touches Your Life. Maybe you’re thinking, “That’s nice, but to be quite honest, it doesn’t touch the pain I feel or the tragedy I struggle with on a daily basis;” after Christmas is over its back to reality. But if you’re thinking that, you don’t understand. The news that “there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord,” is absolutely the best news there is or ever could be.
This is the best news because it centers on the most unusual Person in history. It means that a prophet has been sent to give us good news. It means that a priest has come to offer himself as a sacrifice for our sins. It means that a king has come to reign. This Savior born in Bethlehem is God in human flesh. If He had been only a man, He could not have died for the sins of the human race. If He had been an angel, He could not have borne human sins. But He was the God-man who could reconcile both sinful man and a holy God together.
This is the best news because it is the most liberating news in the world. Jesus did not come as a nice man offering a new philosophy about life. He did not come as a great moral teacher, giving some interesting tips on how to live a happy life. He came as the Savior for a lost and dying race.
I was watching a news report some time ago about a toddler who fell down a narrow well. Her mother went looking for her as soon as she realized she was missing and was horrified to hear her daughter’s voice coming from this deep, dark shaft. Fire fighters and other rescuers soon swarmed on the sight. News media arrived and for hours the attention of the millions was riveted on that field where desperate attempts were being made to rescue that little girl before it was too late.
That little girl didn’t need anyone to give her some ideas on how to live a happy life. She was doomed if someone didn’t save her from certain death. The most important news that desperate mother could hear in that situation was, “The rescuers have reached your daughter and she has been saved!”You could have walked up to that mother as she anxiously awaited the outcome and told her, “I just heard on the evening news that it’s going to be sunny and warmer tomorrow.” Big deal! That’s nice news, but it’s not important when your child is lost down a deep well. You could have reported to her, “They just said on the news that the economy is on an upswing.” Wonderful, but trivial compared to the only news that mattered the most to that mother.
That’s why the good news that a Savior has been born who is Christ the Lord is the best news in the world, because it deals with the most important issue of all, namely, where a person will spend eternity. Each person in this world is lost without the Savior. It is only a matter of time until they die without Christ and enter eternity under the judgment of a holy God. But in His mercy, God sent His son to save us from our sins. That is the most important news in the world!
It’s Only Good News If It Is True
If I told you, “You’ve just inherited a million dollars,” you would only regard it as good news if it was true. If I was just making it up, it isn’t a cause for great joy. The news that Jesus Christ is born as a Savior is nothing more than a sick joke if it is not true news. If it’s just a nice legend that warms our hearts every Christmas, forget it! If it’s not absolutely true, then it only offers false hope for eternity, when really there is none. But if it’s true that Jesus Christ can save us from our sins so that we do not come under the judgment of a holy God, then we must believe and act on it.
The Christmas story is not a fairy tale. It happened in history: “Today in the city of David there has been born …” (v. 11). It happened on a particular day in history in a geographic location that was prophesied centuries before. The shepherds went and saw a live human baby. We’re not talking make-believe; we’re talking true history.
It’s Only Good News it’s Up to Date
News isn’t really exciting news if it’s old or if it relates to something in the far-distant future. If I told you that they discovered gold in California in 1848 it doesn’t greatly affect you, because that’s old news. If you tell a young starving poet that he will inherit a million dollars when he turns, 70 that’s great, but it’s so far off that it doesn’t help him much right now. The best news is news that relates to me right now.
Notice the words in the story that give a sense of urgency to this message to the shepherds: “today” (v. 11); “Let us go straight to Bethlehem” (v. 15); “they came in haste” (v. 16). The good news about Jesus the Savior is timely, urgent news because it comes to people who, like these shepherds, sit in darkness and the shadow of death (1:79 Scripture implores us, “Today is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2). You may not have tomorrow. It’s not something you’re guaranteed. “Boast not yourself about tomorrow.” Christ saves you the instant you believe in Him as your Savior. You need not clean up your life first. No matter how great a mess you’ve made of your life, if you will turn to Christ as your Savior now, He will save you now.
Some people once told Jesus about some Galileans who had been ruthlessly murdered by Pilate. Jesus must have startled them when he responded, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Then He related a situation where some people were killed when a tower fell on them, and repeated His warning, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3-4). He meant that unless we repent before then, we come before God’s judgment we too will perish. It is to doomed people that this urgent good news comes, “Today … there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ, the Lord.”
It’s Good News When It Includes Everyone You Love
The angel announces it as “good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people” (v. 10). No doubt these Jewish shepherds understood that to mean the Jewish people. But there is also no doubt that Luke, a Gentile, who wrote this story would have his readers know that “all the people” means that there is no one to whom this good news does not apply. It is a fact of history that the good news of Jesus applies to all and transforms all who will believe. Savage tribesmen have been converted into peaceful missionaries through believing the good news about Christ. Civilized, educated savages as well have been transformed through believing this simple good news.
Shepherds were a despised group in Israel. They were not considered fit to be witnesses in court. Their work rendered them ceremonially unclean. The fact that God chose to reveal the Savior first to these shepherds shows that God often chooses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. He often picks common, working people–shepherds and fishermen–in whom to display His grace.
The fact that these shepherds were sitting in darkness is symbolic of the whole human race, lost in the darkness of sin (1:79). It reminds us that the good news about Christ is for ALL sinners. As He told the self-righteous Pharisees, “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). The sudden bright light of God’s glory terrified the shepherds, as is always the case when sinners encounter the holy light of God’s presence. But the angel quickly relieved their fears and told them this incredibly good news. As John Newton put it in his classic hymn, “Amazing Grace,”
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, / And grace my fears relieved; / How precious did that grace appear, / The hour I first believed!”
But Good News Is Not Good News If You Do Not Receive It
“There has been born for you a Savior” (v. 11). That means that this good news requires a personal response. That each person must respond as did these shepherds. They didn’t sit around discussing theology. They didn’t say, “Wow, that was really some experience, seeing all those angels,” and sit there the rest of the night with their sheep. They didn’t say, “Thanks for the news, but we’ve always believed this” and stay where they were at. No, they responded to the news by believing what God had revealed to them through the angel. Their faith was demonstrated by their going straight to Bethlehem to see it for themselves and then to return glorifying and praising God (vv. 15, 20). And what did they see? “Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger” (v. 16). No halo. No angels hovering there. Jesus didn’t look like a Savior. The place smelled like a barn, because that’s what it was. Very common, very simple. They could have scoffed and stumbled over it, as many do.
What about you? Will you scoff or stumble over the simple but profound message that the baby Jesus, born in Bethlehem, whose birth was announced by the angels to these simple shepherds, is Christ the Lord, a Savior born for you? That is absolutely the best news in the world, no matter what your situation in life. Jesus didn’t leave heaven and come to this earth and go through the suffering of the cross just to give you a boost or a few tips on how to have a happy life. He knew that you desperately need a Savior. He alone can save you from the penalty of God’s wrath because of your sins.
A sergeant was explaining to a group of soldiers about to make their first parachute jump what to do if their main chute did not open: “Snap back immediately into a tight body position. Then pull the rip cord of your reserve chute, and it will open, bringing you safely to the ground.”
A private nervously raised his hand. “What’s your question, soldier?” the sergeant called out. “Sergeant, if my main parachute doesn’t open, how long do I have to pull my reserve?” The sergeant looked directly into the young private’s eyes and replied earnestly, “The rest of your life, soldier. The rest of your life.”
How long do you have to respond to the good news that Christ the Lord has come as your Savior? The rest of your life! And since you’re already on your way down, but you don’t know how long before you hit the ground, Don’t delay!
He’s The Reason for the Season And He’s Only A Prayer Away!