Posted: 25th December, 2016

The Heavenly Message

On the night of Jesus’ birth, we have the glory of the Lord shining all around some quiet shepherds who are keeping watch and guard over their sheep through the night.  The most significant angel of all, the one known as “the angel of the Lord”, preaches this message to the shepherds: “Fear not!  I bring you the gospel (good news) of great joy which will be for all the people.  Today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord…”  Then, along with this evangelist angel who brings the joyous gospel of Jesus, is “a great company of heavenly beings” (Luke 2:13), which can be literally translated “the army of heaven”.  This host of angels, this army of heaven, joins the angel of the Lord in proclaiming the gospel of great joy, and then they join in both composing and then singing the very first Christmas carol of all time: “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, goodwill to men with whom He is pleased.”

These heavenly messages ring forth across the years and come to us today.  They touch and enliven and comfort our hearts, and bring salvation to us.  Consider this message:

“Fear not!” – What is present at the time of Jesus’ birth into the world is a world mired in darkness, and a people devoured by sin.  As sinners we may mock the holy, but when we are confronted with it, we are terrified.  After all, in the face of absolute glory-blinding holiness, we expect to be killed.  Why?  Because the unholy can not stand before the holy.  This is why one of the great blessings of the gospel is that it makes us as God’s people to be holy in the sight of God, reckoning to us the holiness of Christ, and smashing our fear of death (1 Corinthians 15:26).  Through Jesus, we, the unholy, are the righteousness of God in Christ, and therefore we can stand before God without being destroyed!  Furthermore, when we belong to Jesus Christ, we realize that God is always with us and will never leave us nor forsake us.  He is Emmanuel, “God with us”, and so we can be free of ALL fear!

“I bring you good news of great joy” – God replaces the fear with rejoicing.  The responsibility of the church, of those who belong to God, is to renounce fear, and replace it with joy.  Let me explain what I mean by this.  I do not mean that we paste on smiles and jump up and down pretending to be giddily happy.  Far from it!  Our joy is a deep abiding joy that does not depend on outer circumstances or inner feelings.  This does not mean that joy does not produce an inner state of joyfulness.  Of course it does.  There is an inner state of joy, but joy does not depend upon such an inner state to be there.  We can be joyful, because, as Paul says, we are “rejoicing in the Lord”.  In Nehemiah 8:10, we are told that “the joy of the Lord is our strength.”

Our joy is tied to Christ.  We experience joy, because we rejoice in the God who accomplishes His will perfectly in our lives.  We trust Him in all things, and thus we rejoice even in the days of adversity and trouble and sorrow and even suffering.  This is a joy that is meant to mark the lives of believers until the instant of Christ’s return, and then to continue with us into everlasting glory, because it is a joy in the Lord Himself.

The shepherds could rejoice because the announcement of the angels meant that all that God had promised was now, in this Child, born not in a palace, but in a stable in Bethlehem, and with His birth, He fulfilled God’s promised deliverance.  In His birth, the Savior had arrived!  The gospel, the good news that Christ has come for us, that He has died for us, that He is alive NOW for us, has this joy at its heart.  Charles Spurgeon says: “The gospel is, above all else, intended to promote, and will most abundantly create, the greatest possible joy in the human heart wherever it is received.”

“Today a Savior has been born to you, who is Christ the Lord” – It is not ‘soon’, not even ‘tomorrow’, but “TODAY the Saviour is born unto you”!  This Saviour is the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One, who, in the midst of a world living in darkness and despair, comes for one overarching purpose: “to save His people from their sins”.  And Jesus does this perfectly, utterly, and completely, by substituting Himself for us and giving Himself over to be crucified!  By doing this, Jesus delivers us, Jesus ransoms us, Jesus pardons and forgives us.  Jesus does this for everyone who calls on His Name in faith.  He can do all this because He is the Savior/Messiah, who, as the angel announces, is none other than Christ the Lord!  It is undoubtable.  The one who is Jesus Christ is none other than the Lord God Almighty!!!

The hope of all the ages has come to rest in this baby.  Not in an army commander, but in this child.  Not in a king who has conquered nations, but in this tiny baby, born in a barn, with “no place” even at His birth, “to lay His head”.  Not a person on earth could have recognized what took place in that stable, but it was angels, the angels of God, whose song broke open the heavens and revealed in the humblest of circumstances imaginable the savior, Christ the Lord, the Word made flesh, who came to dwell for a while amongst us, and who, through His death and resurrection, brings us peace and joy and life.

This is God’s deepest desire for you, that you would behold Jesus Christ, believe in Him, rejoice in Him, and live forever with Him!

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