And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “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.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
The angel brought good news of great joy. Good news is the Gospel, but today let’s focus on joy. Miriam-Webster.com defines joy three ways:
What the angels proclaimed to the shepherds that night was a source or cause of delight to be found in a manger in Bethlehem. The emotional state spoken of in the first definition depends on circumstances. Same with the state of happiness; whether or not we are happy at any given moment depends on a variety of factors. Every day is not going to be a good day and no one (even if they claim otherwise) is always going to be happy. But in Jesus our Savior we have a constant source of delight. God came into the world to become our peace that surpasses understanding. Our hope is not in an economy, an army, a business or own success. The world we live in is sinking like the Titanic but if we had hope in this life only we would be above all others most miserable. Jesus is the hope of the world, a light in the darkness, a strong tower, the Word of God and his name is Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
The shepherds received the Good News and did three things. First they said “Let us go over the Bethlehem…” They didn’t stand around in the field rejoicing they had seen angels; they obeyed the instruction sent to them by God. They were told to go and they went. When they found the baby and his parents they “made known the saying that had been told them.” In other words they shared the Gospel. They received the Gospel and went and shared the Gospel. Freely you have received, freely give. And finally they glorified and praised God as they returned. They were filled with joy and gave God the honor and glory. They vocalized their praise toward the one who is worthy. The psalmist wrote that we are to “enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise.” In short they worshipped God because of all they had seen and heard.
Have we gone? Across the street or around or the world, have we said “Let us go?” Have we shared the Gospel, telling others what we know of good news and great joy? Do we glorify and praise God? We can work ourselves to death buying gifts, wrapping packages, running to every Christmas party, pageant rehearsal and choir practice but we need to find time to focus our attention Godward and just like the shepherds praise him for what they found in Bethlehem that night 2,000 years ago. The good news is still good – and still brings joy to the hearts of believers.