December 22, 2011
Christmas: The Joy of the
Savior, Christ the Lord
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We see many titles applied to Jesus of Nazareth. As angels announced the birth of Christ, we see how God viewed this baby born in a stable, and laid in a manger. He came with unprecedented heavenly testimony, but on earth He arrived quietly without pomp or recognition. The angelic tidings of “good news of great joy” revealed the heavenly view of the earthly birth of Jesus. As we look at these two verses concerning Christmas, we see a view from heaven shared by men.
Do Not Be Afraid. The angel said to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid” (Luke 2:10). This term for fear (“φοβεῖσθε“) has the common root word for fear throughout the New Testament. The shepherds were profoundly and genuinely frightened by the appearance of the angel of the Lord and the glory of the Lord shining around them. Of the ten times the phrase “Do not be afraid” (“Μὴ φοβεῖσθε“) occurs in the New Testament, Jesus uses it seven times when speaking to His disciples and once talking with Mary Magdalene and the other Mary at the empty tomb. (Matthew 28:10). Angels used the phrase the other two times: once when the angel spoke to the shepherds at the birth of Christ (Luke 2:10) and second when the angel spoke to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary at the empty tomb after the death and resurrection of Christ (Matthew 28:5). When coming from angels, this phrase “Do not fear” conveys the idea that the appearance of the angels tended to overwhelm the people they addressed. So the shepherds received this greeting from the angel sent to announce the glad tidings of the birth of Christ. You may recall that angels are mighty in strength and perform the word of God, by obeying the voice of His word (Psalm 103:20). We also know that the angels are ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation (Hebrews 1:14). Here, the angels of the Lord brought joyful news to all the people.
The Angel Said. In Luke 2:8, we read about the angel appearing to some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flocks by night. These shepherds had a job that kept them outside, in the elements, and was not a glorious job. You may recall King David, the son of Jesse, as a youth tended sheep, and had to stay behind at home with the sheep while his older brothers went out to battle Goliath and the Philistines (1 Samuel 16:11; 1 Samuel 17:20; 2 Samuel 7:8). Likewise, Amos, one of the prophets who wrote a book of the Bible, was a shepherd from Tekoa (Amos 1:1; Amos 7:14). These shepherds in Luke 2:8 had the privilege of hearing the angels announce the birth of Christ to them. Consider further that Micah had prophesied that Jesus would be a ruler who will shepherd the people of God in Israel (Matthew 2:6; Micah 5:2-4: “He will arise and shepherd His flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD His God. And they will remain, because at that time He will be great to the ends of the earth.'” see also John 10:14; Zechariah 13:7, and Matthew 26:31; the Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep (John 10:15) and then takes it again (John 10:17-18)). Imagine, in all the world, with all the people in various places, God sent the angels to speak to shepherds in fields at night with their sheep.
Good News of Great Joy. The angel heralded the good news of the birth of Christ. The term “good news” (“εὐαγγελίζομαι”) has the same Greek root word as the word “gospel.” We speak of “evangelicals” today, referring to people who claim to have been born again by Christ after hearing the good news. Likewise, we use the term “evangelize” to refer to spreading the good news of Jesus to the whole world. In Luke 2:10, the angels brought good news to the shepherds, signaling the fullness of time had arrived for the birth of Christ (Galatians 4:4). The angelic message links the good news of the birth of Christ with great joy (“χαρὰν μεγάλην”). God intended for the proclamation of the angel to bring joy to all the nations, for God never wills for anyone to perish, but for all to repent, and come to Jesus Christ for salvation (2 Peter 3:9). Only in Jesus will we ever find real joy that lasts for a lifetime. Everyone on earth just had a Savior born, who would give His life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28) by offering Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). Because death could never hold the Prince of life, He rose victorious over death and now sits at the right hand of God (Acts 2:24-28).
Savior, Christ the Lord. In Luke 2:11, we now see why the whole world should have rejoiced at the birth of the Savior. Jesus came as the One who would save the people of God from their sins (Matthew 1:21). As Savior, Jesus was the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Notice too that Jesus was the Christ, the anointed one of God, promised in the Old Testament as the Messiah of Israel. We know that Messiah (“Μεσσίαν”) is the Hebrew word (“מָשִׁיח”) for Christ (“Χριστός”) (John 1:41; John 4:25-26). Jesus was the Messiah (Matthew 1:16). All of Israel longed to see Messiah, or the Christ, and now He had appeared. Jesus also came as Lord, and we know that one day, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11). Our joy today comes from recognizing Jesus as Lord and confessing Him today (Romans 10:9-10).
The City of David. You may recall in the Old Testament, the people of Israel demanded a king who would judge them and fight for them and they could be like all the other nations (1 Samuel 8:20). Such a demand displeased God, because the people had rejected God as their king (1 Samuel 8:7). God then gave the people of Israel Saul as their first king, but he disobeyed God repeatedly and God replaced Saul with David. God promised David that David would always have a descendent upon the throne of Israel (2 Samuel 7:8-17). Jesus now comes in the flesh, born of a woman descended from David, to fulfill that prophecy regarding David and the Royal Covenant of God with David (Matthew 1:1-17; Acts 13:33-34; Hebrews 1:5; 5:5). Jesus was born in the city of David, Bethlehem, and would always be the King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16).
So we learn more about the joy of Christmas.
● Christmas is all about joy to all people.
● The whole world should rejoice because Jesus, the Savior, was born in Bethlehem.
● Christians rejoice because Christ the Lord has come to save men from their sins.
Application for Today
As I walk through life today, I will meditate upon Christ and Christmas. As believers, we should live in the joy of Jesus Christ every day. In Him, we have life and the joy of sins forgiven. Will you walk in the joy of Christmas today?