I bring you good news of great joy!
Early on in Genesis, we see how the creation that God loved so fully fell so quickly. Just pages into the story we were in need of His total rescue. On the one hand, it seems like the Father was slow to act. He did not bring about deliverance for many long years. But in contrast to this seeming delay, we also see how quickly God pointed to a coming Son, the one who would restore the brokenness of our fall. God revealed glimpses of the promise to Abraham; he spoke of the anticipated redemption through His prophets. He did not leave His people without hope.
So, after those thousands of years waiting for the fulfillment of the promised Savior, who did the Father choose to reveal the miraculous news to? We might expect a special declaration to have been made to Cesar Augustus, ruler of the then-known world. Or at least it would be revealed to some locally significant leader, say Herod. After all, wouldn’t it be best for the most important people to know so that they could spread the news? But no, this joyous news was first proclaimed to shepherds living and working in nearby fields.
Notice that this was not some accidental delivery. The angel specifically says, “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.” The angel went on to give the shepherds specific instructions as to where they would find this Savior.
How incredible that our Father saw fit to entrust this wonderful news first with a group of people whom the rest of society did not even socialize with. A group of outsiders! Perhaps the shepherds were the most prepared to receive this unbelievable proclamation of good news. In looking back through God’s interaction with His people, he often chose shepherds after all. Moses was tending sheep when God met him at the burning bush. David was anointed king of Israel while watching his father’s flocks. How encouraging for those of us with “secular” occupations!
Notice the response of the shepherds to this celestial visitation. Once the angels departed, the shepherds went to Bethlehem to “see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” Not if this thing has happened. They believed immediately and acted on this belief. These men who were poor in terms of the world’s riches had been entrusted with history’s greatest angelic declaration.
The great Joy, the long awaited Savior, the one that the prophets pointed to was here! And where were they told they would find Him? On his crib-throne in the fanciest home in Bethlehem? No, out in a barn. But even in this hour of Christ’s great humbling, His Father saw fit that Jesus’ birth be attended by a multitude of heavenly hosts.
The Son of God taking on flesh and bones, this arrival of Immanuel, marks that pivotal moment in history when men no longer walked in darkness. The Light of Life had come, that through Him all may believe.