Summary: Because of Christmas we do not need to fear
[“The News” video]
We live in a world where there is certainly no shortage of news. We have ABC News, NBC News, CBS News and all their local affiliates. We have the Cable News Network and Fox News. We have the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and the Arizona Daily Star. And then on top of that almost all those news organizations have their own websites where we can get the news right up to the minute 24 hours a day.
And while all of those news outlets are unique in some ways, they tend to share pretty much all the same news stories. And as the video we just saw shows, most of that news is not good news.
Over 2,000 years ago, none of those news organizations even existed. There was no TV, no radio, no internet, no newspapers. But in Palestine the news of the day, even though it was communicated much differently than today, was really not much better, especially for the people who belonged to the commonwealth of Israel. They had no country of their own. They lived under the harsh rule of the Roman Empire who was openly hostile to them and their religion. And Judea, in particular was ruled by a tyrannical client king named Herod who had been given the title “King of Judea” by the Roman Senate.
Although Herod generally supported traditional Jewish laws, he had angered the Jews with acts like replacing the high priests with men of his own choosing, combining pagan forms of worship with traditional Jewish worship practices and exacting confiscatory taxes in order to support his lavish lifestyle. So living as a Jew under those circumstances was no easy task.
It was into that world that God chose to bring good news – lasting good news that is still good news for us over 2,000 years later. And when He did that, He announced that good news in a completely unexpected manner. He didn’t go to the religious leaders or to the political leaders or to the rich and famous. He chose instead to make His announcement to some lowly shepherds as they tended to their flocks. Here is how Luke records that event in his gospel account:
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
(Luke 2:8-11 ESV)
Certainly we can all use some good news, so for the next three weeks leading up to Christmas I’m really excited that we’re going to be able to take some time to focus on various aspects of the good news of Christmas. As I was reading through the accounts of Jesus’ birth in the Scriptures a few months ago when I was planning this sermon series, I was struck by the fact that there are several themes of good news that seem to be woven throughout those birth narratives. So rather than just focusing on a specific passage each week, we’re going to step back and take a broader look at those themes.