Summary: The birth announcements by the angels 2000 years ago was great news. Like the shepherds we need to get the news, celebrate the news and spread the news.
It was June 18, 1815, the Battle of Waterloo. The French under the command of Napoleon were fighting the Allies (British, Dutch, and Germans) under the command of Wellington. The people of England depended on a system of semaphore signals to find out how the battle was going. One of these signal stations was on the tower of Winchester Cathedral. Late in the day it flashed the signal: "W-E-L-L-I-N-G-T-O-N---D-E-F-E-A-T-E-D- -." Just at that moment one of those sudden English fog clouds made it impossible to read the message. The news of defeat quickly spread throughout the city. The whole countryside was sad and gloomy when they heard the news that their country had lost the war.
Suddenly the fog lifted, and the remainder of the message could be read. The message had four words, not two. The complete message was: "W-E-L-L-I-N-G-T-O-N- - -DE-F-E-A-T-E-D- - -T-H-E- - -E-N- E-M-Y!" in a few minutes the good news spread. Sorrow was turned into joy, defeat was turned into victory! So it was when Jesus was laid in the tomb on the first Good Friday afternoon. Hope had died even in the hearts of Jesus' most loyal friends. After the frightful crucifixion, the fog of disappointment and misunderstanding had crept in on the friends of Jesus. They had "read" only part of the divine message. "Christ defeated" was all that they knew. But then on the third day - Easter Sunday - the fog of disappointment and misunderstanding lifted, and the world received the complete message: "Christ defeated death!" Defeat was turned into victory; death was turned to life!
Sometimes preachers will pause for effect when speaking. That means they pause just before saying something they want their audience not to miss. Pausing catches the attention of the one listening and causes them to refocus their attention. For 400 years after Malachi God had not spoken. During this time Israel had faced many trials yet there was still hope that the Messiah would someday come. Then one night, in the hills around Bethlehem the long awaited announcement finally comes:
Luke 2:8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, "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. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
1. Getting the News - (vs. 10-12)
Have you ever had one of those weeks were it seems like everything you hear is negative? Everywhere you turn is bad news? Maybe you have heard the story of the base ball pitcher who was praying and suddenly God appeared to him in a vision. God asks him if there was any one question He could answer and the pitcher says, “I’ve always wondered if there is baseball in heaven.” God pauses and says “Well I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is YES, there is there is baseball in heaven. The bad news is you are pitching this coming Monday.”
Or maybe you have heard the story of the the drill sergeant who was making his morning announcements to a group of newcomers to the training camp: "Today, gentlemen, I have some good news and some bad news. First, the good. Private Peters will be setting the pace on our morning run.’ With this the platoon was overjoyed, as Private Peters was overweight and terribly slow. But then the drill sergeant finished his statement: "Now for the bad news. Private Peters will be driving a truck."
We all like to receive good news. This announcement given by Angels to shepherds almost 2000 years ago was the greatest breaking news report ever received. Put yourself in the place of these shepherds. An angel appears and God’s glory shines and you are terrified. Then the angel says: