I BRING YOU GOOD NEWS OF GREAT JOY!
If I asked you to think of a Behold! moment in the bible, I could guess that most of you would respond with the ever famous Christmas story. A dark routine night. Nothing but the cool breeze carrying wafts of wooly friends past the noses of a gathering of common shepherds. They are taking in the night sky that hasn’t changed from the night before, or the night before that, or the night before that. The stars are dazzling as they should, the moon adjusts through its predictable phases, and the familiar voices of the shepherds gently calls back any sheep beginning to wander. When the day began, we could guess, the shepherds were not expecting a behold moment.
Then suddenly everything changed. An angel of the Lord appears. We might take for granted that this was a common occurrence in bible times, but as our pastor, Conrad, pointed out last week - the bible spans many thousands of years. It wasn’t that any one of these shepherds was thinking, “hey, do you think this is the night we will see an angel of the Lord?” Naturally then, the angel, with he radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounding them (WOW!), reassures these terrified common shepherds to not be afraid. “Don’t be afraid!” A common lead to a behold moment. What a way to grab this group’s attention.
This was a night of announcement - a birth announcement! But not an ordinary birth announcement to simply join in the joys of the new parents. This was the promised messiah, finally coming to fulfill the prophecies that had been encouraging each generation from the beginning of time. The angel says, “ I bring you GOOD NEWS of GREAT JOY to all people.” Even the lowly shepherd, minding his place in the field, watching his flocks by night. “THE Saviour has been born! YES! The Messiah, the Lord” Just to be sure they understood, here Jesus is being announced three times over - don’t be confused about this news - born today is your Saviour, your Messiah, your Lord. He is born just today in Bethlehem, as the prophecies said, so GO! Go to Him and see Him. Seek the Lord and you will find Him, dear shepherds. To you today, GO! Seek the Lord, dear friends, you will find Him!
The dear precious promise of Jeremiah 29:13 - “If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find Me.” This is the Lord’s guarantee. The shepherds got up and on their way, wholeheartedly. They had the sign they were looking for, a baby, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth and lying in a manger. They hurried to the village. They had just been given good news of great joy and not one of them hesitated to believe it. After all, a heavenly host came to seal the moment. “Now we know we weren't imagining it!”, kind of heavenly host. They came to praise. They came to sing to the Lord, to tell of His glory and His peace that was now present on earth as a baby for all people. These angels were there saying that the heavens were also rejoicing in this Good News. I would guess they had been waiting in just as much anticipation for the Lord’s redemptive plan to come to this part of the story. Cheering on the plans of God and rooting for mankind, who now had the Saviour among them that we need to bridge the gap between our slavery in Sin and our freedom in Jesus.
The people at the time of Jesus expected a grand arrival for their Messiah. Like a king entering a city on the most beautiful horse, crowds and celebrations swirling around him. A warrior in grand armour coming to save the day. The common birth of our Lord and the announcement to these fine shepherds tells us once again that Jesus came for every and anyone. A quiet entrance in a stable filled with hay - with the background symphony of a heavenly host declaring His glory. Philippians 2 says it best, “Though He was God, He did not think equality with God as something to cling to. Instead He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born a human being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled Himself in obedience to God - and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”
Jesus may not have arrived like the people were expecting, and although it was quiet and humble, the birth of Jesus was not kept a secret. The angels proclaimed the good news to the shepherds who went immediately to see the face of their promised Saviour. They then took this message and shared it with those around them. Everyone heard and they were astonished. Behold! Behold! Behold! Over and over this news was shared and it was big enough to say to the next person, “Hear this! Don’t miss it!” And they stood still, in awe of the Lord. At least that’s what I do in my astonished moments. A stop, a pause, and take it all in.
The Lord promises that those who seek Him wholeheartedly will find Him. What are you waiting for? The invitation is here. Go and seek Him! You will be astonished! He is beautiful!