The Good News
The Child is Born
Day 17 Tuesday, December 14th
1. Recognize the Context:
Chapter 2 begins with the birth of Jesus. Verses 1-5 provide the context for the birth, and verses 6-7 give the birth account. The story of the shepherds follows this passage.
2. Read the Scripture: Luke 2:8-14
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 that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, 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 heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
3. Reflect on the Scripture:
The mention of shepherds accentuates two antithetical ideas. Negatively, shepherding was a lowly occupation, and shepherds were not valued in the social structure of the First Century. Their acknowledgment here is significant because one of Luke’s themes is the importance of Jesus’ message for those on the margins of society. At the beginning of his life, we see the shepherds. During his public ministry, there were sinners and tax collectors. At the end of his life, he was crucified with criminals. Jesus was always surrounded by the socially marginalized.
Positively, the image of shepherds had Messianic implications. We know David was called from the life of a shepherd to lead God’s people. He was even referred to as shepherd of the people (Psalm 78:70-72). David’s model of shepherding God’s people came from God himself (Psalm 23, Isa. 40:11). We also know that it was prophesied the Messiah would shepherd God's people in the strength of the Lord (Micah 5:4). Jesus fulfilled this prophecy, and several New Testament writers confirmed this assertion (John 10:11, Hebrews 13:20, 1 Peter 2:25).
These shepherds in Luke 2 experienced the “Glory of the Lord,” which is an Old Testament phrase referring to the manifested presence of God. Naturally, this caused terror in their hearts, but the angel of the Lord instructed them not to be afraid (Luke 1:13, 30). The angel of the Lord brought good news that would result in great joy for all people. The verb used for the proclamation of good news was a familiar term in the Old Testament and the Greco-Roman world. For example, in the Greek Old Testament (Septuagint), it was used to refer to the announcement of God coming to deliver his people (Isaiah 40:9, 52:7).
In the Greco-Roman world, it was used to announce a great military victory, an important birth, or the ascension of a ruler. Here in Luke, we see Jesus as the culmination of all aspects of this word. His birth involved the announcement of God’s intervention into this world, including the coming and ascension of a new Messianic king. He proclaimed a new kingdom and won the victory over evil, sin, and death. This is the heart of the gospel or “good news.”
The term “Savior” was an important word, and it accompanied the pronouncement of the good news. The good news was about the one who brought salvation and deliverance. For the people of Israel in the Old Testament, it was always God who brought salvation and deliverance to his people. In the Greco-Roman world, various gods, rulers, and emperors were believed to bring salvation and rescue the people. As one who saves and delivers us from sin, death, and evil, Jesus is the perfect example of a Savior.
4. Relate to life:
Remember, it is important to be a doer of God’s Word, not merely a hearer or reader (James 1:22-25). Here are some practical ways to actively respond to God’s Word. Consider these or create other ways you can apply the message.
In light of the shepherds (and others to whom Jesus ministered), prayerfully consider who Christ came to save. Thank God this includes you!
Today, prayerfully reflect on the historical context of the good news and proclamation of salvation. What does this bring to your previous understanding?
If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you have probably heard the words good news, gospel, and Savior, countless times. Perhaps they have lost the meaning and significance they once had. Today, prayerfully consider these words anew and ask God to give you a fresh perspective on their significance in your life.
To do: (With the Holy Sprit's help)
Given the prayer suggestions above, what can you incorporate into your life today? Think specifically about the work of the Spirit in your life.
Think about the people in your life.
"Go tell it on the mountain ....." You know the song. Who can you tell the things you have been learning or thinking about this Advent season?
To study: (Always make sure to read the immediate context of the given passage.)
Above, the following Scriptures are referenced. Take some time to read and study these passages and consider writing down their emphasis. They include Psalm 78:70-72, Psalm 23, Isaiah 40:9-11, Micah 5:4, John 10:11, Hebrews 13:20, and 1 Peter 2:25.
Read through the Gospel of Luke. Identify all the people Jesus encountered throughout his ministry.