“But the angel said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord.’”
— Luke 2:10-11 (CSB – Read the chapter)
A week’s worth of joy is not such a bad thing to have. Better would be a whole season of it. Even better than that is a permanent joy that no amount of trouble or fear can shake loose from our hearts. When Jesus arrived on this earth in the form of a little baby, that’s exactly what He came bringing with Him. Rejoice with me today in this good news, this Gospel, and then close out your week with a song that’s sure to bring a smile to your heart.
Imagine being there on that quiet hillside on the outskirts of Jerusalem that night. For this group of shepherds, it was a night just like any other. The sheep were counted and secure. They had decided on night watch rotations, and they were settled in around a fire to tell stories and complain about their outcast life. Everything was normal.
And then it wasn’t.
The darkness suddenly blazed with the brightest light they had ever seen. And as their eyes adjusted a bit, the outline of a figure emerged amid the glow. They were immediately terrified. This was a heavenly creature in whose presence they knew they were unworthy to be.
Then it spoke with a voice like the sound of rushing waters. There was really no other way to describe it. It was loud and quiet at the same time. Their ears could barely take it in, but it pounded in their minds and hearts with a message they couldn’t ignore.
Do not be afraid.
Right, too late for that.
For I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
The only kind of news that could bring them great joy was if the Messiah had arrived. But they wouldn’t be the first to hear about something like that. When the King of Heaven arrived, it would be the wealthy and powerful who were the first to hear the news, not a bunch of smelly, unclean shepherds. And yet, here was this angel standing before them.
For today in the city of David a Savior was born for you. He is the Messiah, the Lord. You will find Him wrapped in cloth and lying in a manger.
Nothing about that message made sense. They were the ones hearing the news. The Messiah was in Bethlehem instead of Jerusalem. He was apparently a baby. And He was lying in an animal feed trough. If this was truth, it was far stranger than fiction.
Then the sky…exploded. The full heavenly chorus surrounded them, all proclaiming glory to God in the most beautiful sounds they had ever heard. These were the sounds of heaven. Nothing on earth made this kind of sound. No choir of men could sing with such voices as these.
It had to be true. Isaiah’s promise of unending joy was being fulfilled. God was restoring His people starting with the least of them. Justice was here. Peace was nigh. Joy had come. They could only rejoice at the news and hurry to see this thing that had been told to them.
And now the invitation is to you: Will you join in their rejoicing? Will you hurry to find the Savior whose birth truly was good news of great joy? He will make your joy complete if you will let Him. Once you go to Him and receive Him as He has received you, nothing will ever be the same; it will be better. Not easier. Better. Joy will become the theme of your life’s song; a joy that will not end. Then, you will sing with the angels the song of Heaven’s boast.
Now, capturing this joy in a song isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do. But the band, Rend Collective, comes close. I don’t know of many groups whose music is as filled with joy as theirs is generally, and this song from their 2014 Christmas album, A Campfire Christmas Vol. 1, captures the joy of those shepherds as they danced their way into Bethlehem better than any other I’ve heard. May you know this joy as you keep moving forward toward the Day.