Good News of Great Joy

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But the angel reassured them, saying, “Don’t be afraid. For I have come to bring you good news, the most joyous news the world has ever heard! And it is for everyone everywhere! For today in Bethlehem a rescuer was born for you. He is the Lord Yahweh, the Messiah. You will recognize him by this miracle sign: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a feeding trough!” Luke 2:10-11 TPT

Dare I write of a manger and a virgin giving birth? How do you possibly put pen to paper about such things?

Angels have sung songs about it; shepherds have crowded into a dark and foul shelter to see a newborn in his mother’s arms. The planets shifted in their orbit to send one star closer and brighter than all the rest. Stargazers charted their course and Herod slept fitfully in his bed unaware that a new king had come to town.

These days I have trouble imagining the wonder of such things, tangled up as they are with ho-ho-hos and shopping gift lists. Christmas carols fill the air and the pageantry unfolds. We purchase presents and mark our calendars for family gatherings and slip on the silly Christmas sweater. But how do I wrap my head around the true meaning of this day to come? How do I understand this child that came to bring hope for all mankind; Emmanuel, God with us?

How do we describe this earth-shattering, groundbreaking moment when the world paused for just a fraction of a moment as God came down? The angels said it best:

“We bring good news of great joy for all the world…”

It was too much to hear. It was too much to take in. God, Creator Almighty, would send – not a king – not a priest – not a warrior – but His own son in the tender skin of a baby.

He knew we wouldn’t get it. So He told shepherds first. They knew this God of the big sky and vast countryside. They knew the need of sheep for a shepherd. They knew the stench of death on their hands and the dung under their toes and the very obvious reality that they would never be welcomed in places holy and pure. It would take angel song and starlight and a whole new thing to make them clean enough, righteous enough to come into the presence of God.

So God started small. With a baby, tender and new, fragile and helpless, born into their unclean world. The explanation that ‘there was no room in the inn’ spoke volumes. The respectable places were filled to overflowing, so go ahead and place this son of God outside, under the night sky, where the brightest star’s light would fill the night.

The welcoming committee gathered: the farm animals, the shepherds, and the heavenly host of angels. The wise men would soon be on their way. It was too much to take in. Can you imagine? God sending his own child here?

Walk out into the dark this evening. Look up into the night sky. He still lights the way with good news, great joy, for the broken, the ones too unclean to enter in. He is here.

‘God is with us, the healer of our broken.

He has come to save us, mercy lights the darkness;

Christ is here. (Partial lyrics from ‘Christ is Here’ – listen below).

An incredible little detail: The Passion Translation is a new scripture translation that seeks to speak in the impassioned words of the original biblical text. I love this description in the footnotes of the birth of Passover lambs and the great care given to them; they were wrapped in cloths and carefully placed in a manger.

Luke 2:11 A baby lying in a feeding trough where animals were kept nearby, wrapped in strips of cloths, became a sign of the Man-Savior’s life on earth. He entered the world as a lowly baby, and though he is the mighty God, he lived his life on earth in gentleness before all. The shepherds that night were possibly near Bethlehem at Migdal Eder, “the [watch] tower of the flock.” This would fulfill both the prophecies of Mic. 5:2 and Mic. 4:8, which say, “to you it [he] will come, your dominion [kingdom] from old will arrive.” It was at the lower floor of the watchtower (Migdal Eder) that the birthing of the Passover lambs would take place. Selected ewes that were about to give birth would be brought there. After the birth of the lambs, the priestly shepherds would wrap the lambs in cloth and lay them in a manger lined with soft hay to prevent them from hurting themselves, for Passover lambs must be unblemished with no bruise or broken bone. The miracle sign for these priestly shepherds would be a baby boy lying where the Passover lamb should be—in a manger, wrapped in strips of cloth. It was at the cradle of Jesus Christ that the kingdom from ancient times arrived on earth.

The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017 by BroadStreet Publishing® Group, LLC.Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Todd Fields Christ is Here