Thursday, December 22, 2011

Great Joy for all People! - December 22nd, 2011

8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2:8-11

History and Context:
Of the four Gospels, Luke gives us the most thorough account of the life of Jesus. Luke was a doctor, an educated man, who was careful to study out all writings and testimonies (most likely using Mark as a main source) and compiled an accurate account of the life of Jesus. He addressed his letter to Theophilus, a roman, although it is still debated whether this was a real name or simply a representative of the church as a whole. Theophilus simply means "friend of God" so many historians believe that Luke was using the name to address all of "God's friends". As Matthew seemed to emphasize the royalty of Christ and Mark seemed to emphasize His power, Luke seems to emphasize the love and compassion of Christ. Although there are some historical points of Luke's Gospel which are still debated, archaeology has generally proved him to be an accurate historian.

The Text:
Here is another famous Christmas text. The angels have appeared to the shepherds outside of Bethlehem and are announcing the birth of Jesus. They tell them that they are bringing tidings of great joy and that this baby will be a savior to all people. This is an extremely popular passage and we quote multiple times every Christmas season, but we rarely ever ask why. Why did the angels go to the shepherds? Why did they bring people in at all? When you think about it we know that Herod wasn't happy about the birth of Jesus and wanted to find Him, so bringing attention to where He was wouldn't seem like a good idea. Of course God knows all and He knew that nothing would happen in this situation, but also I think it shows us something about God. He never wants to celebrate alone. He desires relationship and so He went out to the closest people who would be open to the idea and invited them in. He didn't want Joseph and Mary to celebrate the birth of Jesus alone so He surrounded them with new friends.

The Challenge:
Just keep this in mind this holiday season. This is why we celebrate with others around us. We do this because it was put in our nature to desire to be around other people. It is part of how God made us, to be like Him. Let us share the joy of Christmas with those around us as we celebrate this year. Let us share the message of Jesus with strangers and family alike. Let us proclaim the Good News that our savior was already born in Bethlehem over two thousand years ago and that He is the savior for all people. Let us glorify God together this holiday season.

The Prayer:
Lord, help me to share with those around me your good news and your joy this Christmas season. Especially let me share with those in my family and friends who don't know you. Use this Christmas to share with them your message. In Jesus' name, Amen!

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