When was the last time you heard some good news? We hear a lot of bad news every time we turn on the television. But sometimes there is that bright spot in the midst of it all– a winning team, a feel-good story, a new birth.
Good news makes us feel lighter and brighter. Some good news can change the course of our life or the make-up of our families. God had some very good news to share and the first to hear were an unlikely group. They were a group of shepherds keeping watch over their sheep at night. The shepherds were just common folk.
They did not have very much power. They were poor. They worked hard and tended their sheep.
But an amazing thing happened. They saw a great light in the sky. It was a host of angels. The glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were amazed at the light that shone brighter than any they had ever seen. They stopped what they were doing and all stared at the light.
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
As I look at that passage, I see several actions on the part of these ordinary, uneducated shepherds.
They recognized the Light as a good thing.
They hurried to find the truth of what they heard–they dropped everything and went immediately to seek out this truth.
When they saw the truth, they spread the word.
That is how a great movement of God happens. People are enlightened to the truth, they seek it out, and then they spread the word.
The shepherds celebrated when they heard the good news. They rejoiced and ran to find Jesus. That is how we should react too. The bright light of glory of the Lord and the bright light of the star shining over the manger were symbolic that Jesus is the Light of the World. He gives His Light to us, too, when He lives in us. Matthew 5:16 tells us how we should handle the light He gives us.
“Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
Today, drop what you are doing and seek the truth in the real meaning of Christmas. Celebrate the greatest news the world has ever heard. And then go share it with others.
I ran into an old friend yesterday. This friend is not a believer. I remember the day years ago when I realized two things:
1. She was my friend and I loved her.
2. Because she was my friend and I loved her, I had to speak truth to her.
I remember the conversation well, though the years have passed by swiftly. We were chatting pleasantly about many different things when I felt that THING. You know what I am talking about–the rapid heart beat, the racing thoughts, the knowledge that now was the time He wanted me to speak up, to bring it up though it would certainly be awkward. I have learned over the years not to ignore the THING. It is the prompting of the Holy Spirit. And I have learned that obedience to that prompting is our only responsibility. The outcome of our obedience is not our responsibility.
So, I spoke up. I told her about my faith, about how I became convinced of the truth of the Bible and the truth of Christ. It was pleasant enough. I didn’t force it, but I did speak it. She didn’t want the truth.
As I left her house that day, I felt two things:
1. I felt sad that she did not understand, nor did she want to understand.
2. I felt free. I felt the freedom that comes from obeying God and trusting that He will do it; it is not up to me. One man plants, the other one waters, but God causes the growth. (1 Corinthians 3:7-9) Maybe I planted that day. I hope someone else has watered.
As we caught up briefly on the years that had passed, I still felt two things:
1. She was still my friend and I loved her.
2. Because she is my friend and I love her, I hope she will one day embrace the good news that the shepherds discovered, as well as the great joy that accompanies it.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.