Good News of Great Joy!

“’Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord….’ ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.'” (Luke 2:10, 11, 14, NIV)

These words from the angels to the shepherds fascinate me. Of all the classes I’ve taken, of all the books I’ve read, of all the speakers of I’ve heard, this is probably the simplest expression of God’s message to all people. In Jesus’ birth announcement, God reveals his plan, its recipients, its benefits, and its purpose.

God’s plan is to save people. The people of Jesus’ day knew that they needed a savior, even though they thought it should be someone who would save them from the Romans. But God’s plan to save people is more than a rebellion against a powerful, earthly empire. God’s plan is to destroy a rebellion – which is the first prophecy of Jesus in Genesis 3:15 – and to rescue those who were caught behind enemy lines.

God’s plan is to save all who are faithful. The angels said that their news was for “all the people” and “to men on whom his favor rests.” Even though the announcement didn’t go into the details that we can find throughout the rest of Jesus’ teachings in the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament, it certainly makes an offer to all people but to all who submit to the lordship of the one whose birth is announced.

God’s plan has great benefits to those who accept it. God’s plan dispels fear. This good news brings joy. It brings salvation. It brings peace. It brings God’s favor.

Most importantly, God’s plan has a purpose, to bring God glory. Even though God’s plan focuses on the salvation of people, giving them joy and peace and favor with God, it all points back toward God. While we celebrate God’s gift to us, let us respond with joy in our praise and worship of God who made the plan and provided salvation through Jesus, to his glory!