Week 3 of Advent: Rejoice
Rejoice! Good News of Great Joy
From the moment of the first sin in the Garden of Eden, mankind waited for the promised Messiah. But we were not the only ones that waited. The angels in heaven had waited as well. And when Jesus was born, they could not contain their joy. They just had to tell someone! They broke through the darkness to appear in the night sky to rejoice that the Savior had been born.
Shepherd receive the first birth announcement
We find in Luke 2 that some shepherds were watching their flock through the night when all of a sudden an angel appeared to them with the good news of great joy. In verses 10-12, the angel says, ” “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.
Sometimes I think we can become guilty of reading the Christmas story in a way that we’ve lost the excitement of the story. We’ve read it so many times, or heard the story over and over and the impact that Jesus’ birth has on the human race is lost. It’s like singing the old, well-known hymns. You can sing all the popular verses without even opening a hymnal, but the words have lost their impact and meaning because we don’t pause and think about what the song is saying. The same is true with the angel’s announcement of Jesus’ birth.
If we stopped to think about what His birth truly means for us, the only possible reaction is to rejoice with exuberant song, just as the angels did.
What we learn from the birth announcement
Rejoice! Fear not!
If you’ve never noticed it, when men encounter God or an angel in the Bible, their first words are, “Fear not.” I don’t know about you, but yes, I would be afraid if an angel just appeared out of nowhere and started talking to me. By the time they appeared to the shepherds, they were probably used to this human reaction. Perhaps that is why their first words were, “Fear not.” I think they could say that to me and I’d still be afraid – just saying! But at the same time, how cool would it be for an angel to come and give you a message from God?
Why would they be afraid? Well, besides the fact they just appeared in the sky out of nowhere, they shown very brightly with the glory of God. So we have floating angels in the sky that shine bright enough to light up the night. And then these shining creatures start speaking. What’s not to be afraid of?
Rejoice! Good News!
Ever since Adam and Eve’s sin, the human race have been sinners. The Old Testament sacrificial system was instituted by God because the price for sin is death. When the animal was sacrificed, it paid the price for the people’s sins. But it had to be done over and over again. The birth of Jesus was the beginning of the end for the old sacrifice system, because Jesus would eventually be the eternal sacrifice and pay the sin debt for every single person ever born. The angel had good news that would bring great joy because the promised Messiah had arrived.
Rejoice! The Good News is for all people
The Old Testament sacrificial system was between Israel and God. Israel was God’s chosen people and He made a covenant with them (which they broke!). It would be through this nation, specifically through the lineage of King David, that the Messiah would be born. But Jesus didn’t come as Savior just for the nation of Israel – He came for all people everywhere throughout the world.
The Angels led the shepherds to Jesus
What if the angels had told the shepherds that Jesus had been born, but didn’t bother to tell them where they could find him? Jesus came for the human race, so the humans needed to know he was here. The angels didn’t appear to everyone – just the shepherds. It would be the shepherds who would then tell everyone else. So the angels told them where Jesus was and how they would know when they found the right baby. That sign was that the baby would be in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
Remember the reason Mary and Joseph was in Bethlehem? Because the king ordered that everyone had to return to their town of birth to be counted for a census and pay taxes. The town was probably over crowded with people because there was no room in the inn. Mary had her baby in the stables where the animals were kept and Jesus’ crib was a feeding trough. While there were lots of babies around, there was probably one one that had just been born and was resting in a manger. So the shepherds would know when they found the right baby.
The Heavenly Angel Choir
After sharing the exciting news, the angel was joined by a whole host an angels (like one wasn’t reason enough to be afraid!) who was ready to rejoice and they burst out in song, singing:
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14)
When we truly understand the reason that Jesus came to earth, each one of us should take time to rejoice this Christmas season and sing with the angels, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
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