Good News of Great Joy

“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭2:8-12‬ ‭

As little children, we read the Bible story from Luke of the birth of Christ. We sing sweet songs of a silent night. We dress up in sheets and shiny wings to be little angels, and robes to be shepherds. All is calm, all is bright; and we focus on the sweet baby Jesus. And it is precious and wonderful.

As an adult now, and as a mom, I think more and more of the fact that sweet little baby Jesus came for one specific reason, to die for the sins of the world. I think of His young mother, giving birth in a dirty, stinky stable. And I think of her holding her 8-day-old first born son at the Temple as the old man, Simeon, tells her that her heart will be broken, just what every new mom wants to hear, right?

“Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.””
‭‭Luke‬ ‭2:34-35‬ ‭

“A good name is better than precious ointment, And the day of death than the day of one’s birth; Better to go to the house of mourning Than to go to the house of feasting, For that is the end of all men; And the living will take it to heart.”
‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭7:1-2‬ ‭

This verse from the book of Ecclesiastes doesn’t sound like one that would make us think of Christmas, but I think it should. The older I get, this season becomes more and more special and beautiful to me, but in a different way than decorations, and gifts, and Christmas nostalgia. I realize more profoundly what God did for us in coming to earth, living, and dying, for our salvation.

“For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭9:6‬ ‭

There is no greater name than the name of the Lord Jesus, and the day of His birth is a wonderful day to celebrate. It is the day that God sent His Son to earth for the fulfillment of His redemptive plan. But the day of Christ’s death is actually even better, because He completed His mission. He died in our place, and for our sins. And the day of His resurrection is the best day of all, when He overcame sin and death.

“For this reason He had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because He himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭2:17-18‬ ‭

The Savior experienced life in every way like we do, the difference being that He was without sin. He came as a helpless newborn, just like each of us. From the day of His birth, to the day of His death, He understood what it felt like to be human.

We celebrate life. We rejoice at each new birth and we hold our tiny babies and dream about what their lives will be. Yet from the moment that we take our first breath, we are one day closer to taking our last. We don’t like to think about that very often. But the end of all people is the same, we will leave this world that we entered as a baby. And could that day really be better?? For a believer in Christ, it means spending eternity in heaven with the Lord. There should be no greater joy than that blessed assurance.

Twenty-seven years ago on this day, my earthly father went home to our Heavenly Father. And I was there with him when he left this world; our whole family surrounded him with love as he finished his battle with cancer, and took his last breath. It was one week after I turned 14.

Every November 18th, I think a lot about eternity. I remember my dad, and what a wonderful man he was. He loved our family, he loved his career as a firefighter, he loved people and he wanted to tell them that Jesus Christ loved them too. But more than anything, he loved his Lord! He longed to hear the words, “Well done good and faithful servant.” And I am confident that he did. My dad loved to sing, and I picture him spending his now endless days singing praises at the throne of God.

I remember when I was a little girl and my dad used to tell me about his grandfather that he never got to meet. But he was sure he would get to know him one day in heaven. Now I tell my sons about their “Grandpa Frankie,” that they haven’t yet met in person, but one day they will, when we all get to heaven. What a day of rejoicing that will be!!

On this day each year, I take out one of my most prized possessions, a CD of my dad singing and playing his guitar the year before he died. Not coincidentally, it was Christmas time when he recorded it, and so I sing along with my dad, songs of the Savior’s birth, while my sons listen.

I am reminded again of the reason I can tell my children with confidence that they will meet their Grandpa, that we will be together in heaven. It is because Jesus came. It is because of Christmas, and Good Friday, and most of all Easter Sunday. I can celebrate and know that the last day of life will be better than the first because God has fulfilled His promise to humanity. He lived, He died, and He rose again.

Christmas is just the beginning of the story of the most wonderful gift that has ever been sent to earth, a gift for all people, for anyone who would receive Him. From the day of birth, to the day of death, there is truly good news of great joy!

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭1:21‬ ‭

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
‭‭John‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭

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