TEXT: LUKE 2:8-14:
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Warren Wiersbe said, “The birth of Jesus drew the angels from heaven. How amazed the angels must have been when they saw the Creator born as a creature, the Word coming as a speechless baby. The best commentary on this is 2 Corinthians 8:9, and the best response from our hearts is wonder and worship. “Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh”. The first announcement of the Messiah’s birth was given by an angel to some anonymous shepherds. Why shepherds? Why not to priests or scribes? By visiting the shepherds, the angel revealed the grace of God toward mankind. Shepherds were really outcasts in Israel. Their work not only made them ceremonially unclean, but it kept them away from the temple for weeks at a time so that they could not be made clean. God does not call the rich and mighty; He calls the poor and the lowly. The Messiah came to be both the Good Shepherd and the Lamb of God sacrificed for the sins of the world. Perhaps these shepherds were caring for the flocks that would provide sacrifices for the temple services. It was fitting that the good news about God’s Shepherd and Lamb be given first to humble shepherds. Shepherds are not easily fooled. They are practical men of the world who have little to do with fantasy. If they said that they saw angels and went and found the Messiah, then you could believe them. God selected hardworking men to be the first witnesses that His Son had come into the world. First, one angel appeared and gave the glad announcement; and then a chorus of angels joined him and gave an anthem of praise. For the first time in centuries, the glory of God returned to earth. If brave shepherds were afraid at what they saw and heard, then you can be sure it was real! “Fear not!” is one of the key themes of the Christmas story. Literally the angel said, “I announce to you good news, a great joy which shall be to all the people.” He used the word which means “to preach the Good News,” a word Luke uses often in both his Gospel and in the Book of Acts. We see here Luke’s emphasis on a worldwide Gospel: the Good News is for everybody, not just the Jews. What was the Good News? Not that God had sent a soldier or a judge or a reformer, but that He had sent a Saviour to meet man’s greatest need. It was a message of peace to a world that had known much war. The famous “Pax Romana” (Roman Peace) had been in effect since 27 B.C. but the absence of war doesn’t guarantee the presence of peace.,The Stoic philosopher Epictetus said, “While the emperor may give peace from war on land and sea, he is unable to give peace from passion, grief, and envy. He cannot give peace of heart for which man yearns more than even for outward peace.” The Jewish word shalom (peace) means much more than a truce in the battles of life. It means well-being, health, prosperity, security, soundness, and completeness. It has to do more with character than circumstances. Life was difficult at that time just as it is today. Taxes were high, unemployment was high, morals were slipping lower, and the military state was in control. Roman law, Greek philosophy, and even Jewish religion could not meet the needs of men’s hearts. Then, God sent His Son! The angels praised God at Creation, and now they praised Him at the beginning of the new creation. The whole purpose of the plan of salvation is “glory to God”. God’s glory had dwelt in the tabernacle and in the temple, but had departed because of the nation’s sin. Now God’s glory was returning to earth in the person of His Son. That lowly manger was a holy of holies because Jesus was there!”
According to Pew Research, 90% of Americans celebrate Christmas every year, however, fewer say that their observance is tied to religious belief. Only 46% of Americans say faith is the driving factor behind their observance of Christmas. On top of that, only 57% of all Americans believe four key elements of the Christmas story:
– That Jesus was born to a virgin
– That Jesus was laid in a manger
– That wise men, guided by a star, brought Jesus gifts
– That an angel announced the Birth of Jesus to shepherds
For years now, Christmas has been marred by a focus on shopping, gift giving, parties, decorating, feasting, and family gatherings. While all of these things are good in their place, none of them are what Christmas is about, and as these trends continue, young people and the growing non-religious segment in our country risk never knowing the true meaning of Christmas. Like Charlie Brown in the famous animated Christmas classic, many may soon be asking, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”
Thankfully for Charlie Brown, he had his best friend Linus, quiet and insecure but portrayed as having the most wisdom among his friends, who not only knew what Christmas was all about, but quoted the passage we just read, without embellishment, on national television. Even then, way back in 1965, Peanuts creator Charles Schulz had to insist, against the wishes of CBS and his animator Bill Melendez, that the passage be included as the “meaning of Christmas.” Bill told Charles, “This is religion. It just doesn’t go in a cartoon.” Charles replied, “Bill, if we don’t do it, who will?”
The result is that little Linus has gone on to preach the Gospel and share the true message of Christmas every year since 1965. If you are confused about the true meaning of Christmas, you need only to pay attention to the angels’ message in Luke 2: “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
Christmas is about the Gift that God sent to man — a Gift that came at enormous cost to Himself. Christmas is about God extending to man the opportunity to be delivered from the dark night of sin and separation from Himself through Salvation supplied by His Son, Jesus Christ. Christmas is about great joy being delivered to all people — not like the temporary joy that comes from a holiday party — but a joy that shines in our lives like a star in the night sky. Without Jesus, Christmas is meaningless. You can take away the parties, the gifts, the decorations, the feasting, the shopping, and the gathering — as long as you have Christ, you have Christmas.
But Jesus is not just for a once-a-year holiday; He is for your entire life and your eternity. Without Him, Christmas day, nor any other day matters. And it is tragic to die without realizing this. As someone once said, “At the end of the day only one thing matters, and that’s Jesus, just Jesus, and nothing else.” Jesus matters because He alone can save you from eternal death, punishment in Hell, and permanent separation from a God who loved you so much that He sent His Son to die in your place. Don’t throw away this opportunity to accept the free gift that God sent on that first Christmas long ago. Here is how you can trust Jesus Christ as your Savior today.
First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now that is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your Salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you believed in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the Cross, was buried, and rose again, allow me to say, congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour! For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
If you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior today, please email me at [email protected] and let us know. There is some free material that we want to send you. If you have a prayer request, please e-mail that to us as well, and we will pray for you until you tell us to stop.
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books including the Essence Magazine, Dallas Morning News, and Amazon.com national bestseller, Letters to Young Black Men. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry.
He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others.
He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty University’s Rawlings School of Divinity (formerly Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary). He is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Ministry degree.
He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica since 1987. God has blessed their union with seven children.