A Message of Mega Joy

 

Text: "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people" (Luke 2:10b). "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us" (Luke 2:15b). "And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it has been told them" (Luke 2:20).

Thought: Luke 2:1-8 tells of the timing, the location, the circumstances, and the actual birth of Mary's firstborn son. Luke has already presented the significance of this birth (Luke 1:26-38), as he writes concerning the visitation of the Angel Gabriel to Mary and what Mary was told concerning the birth of "the Son of the Most High" (Luke 1:32).

Now after writing about the actual birth of the child (Luke 2:1-7), Luke presents the message of "an angel" to a group of shepherds (Luke 2:8-20). This message reveals further the significance of this birth in Bethlehem. The content of the message is described as one of "great joy." The angelic announcement could almost be translated, "I gospel great joy to you" (Luke 2:10). This great joy, in the Greek, literally "mega joy," was and is due to the announcement of the birth of "a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11).

What strikes me about this section of Scripture (Luke 2:8-20) is that it focuses on the angel's announcement or the gospel itself. Not only was God active in the actual birth of the "Son of the Most High," God was active in revealing the significance of this activity to potential witnesses. The angel was a preacher of the gospel of Christ, a message of great joy. This message had to be "preached" in order for the activity of God to be "made known" (Luke 2:15) and for great joy to be experienced. So, putting ourselves in the sandalsof the shepherds, notice that this message of Mega Joy was:

I. Received Meaningfully (Luke 2:15-16)
The Shepherds recognized that this message was from the "Lord." It was the Lord who had "made known" the events in Bethlehem. I suppose they could have rejected the message or questioned its source, but that was not the case. Instead they decided to act immediately on the basis of the message.

II. Confirmed Personally (Luke 2:16-17)
The shepherds went quickly and "found" and "saw" what was told them. They not only witnessed the baby, the Savior, they became witnesses to the truthfulness of the message they had received from the angel (Luke 2:16-17).

III. Proclaimed Publically (Luke 2:17-19)
The Shepherds "made known" to others not just what they found and saw, but "the saying that had been told them concerning this child" (Luke 2:17). The message of the angel was now being spread abroad to others through the shepherds. It is interesting that the response of all who heard was "wonder," not necessarily belief. These shepherds became the first preachers of the gospel message. Mary, on the other hand, treasured and pondered "all these things," which probably included the message that the shepherds heard from the angel.

IV. Celebrated Joyfully (Luke 2:20)
The Shepherds not only told others, they eventually returned to their place of work and service "glorifying and praising God." They had confirmed the message "as it had been told to them" and this confirmation of the message had touched their own lives. They directed glory and praise to God, which was and is the appropriate response to the message of "Mega Joy." We don't hear anything more of these shepherds, but the last word concerning them indicates that they personally embraced the gospel of great joy and directed their joyful response to God Himself in worshipful celebration.

Thrust: Let's praise and glorify God not only for giving His Son to and for us, but for revealing Him to us through His Word. During this season of the year, let's receive this Word meaningfully afresh, confirm it personally anew, proclaim it publically as the Lord leads, and celebrate it joyfully for His glory.

David L. Olford teaches expository preaching at Union University's Stephen Olford Center in Memphis, Tennessee.

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