Good News of Great Joy (Luke 2:8-12)

Main Idea: That will be for all the people.

Text:

I’m recording my sermon today from Raelynn’s hospital room. On Tuesday, we suspected that she may have gotten an infection at her spine surgery incision. So she’s been in the hospital since Wednesday getting checked out. Being in the hospital right now, I thought it would be appropriate to begin with a joke about doctors.

A doctor says to his patient, “I have bad news and very bad news.” The patient says, “Oh no, what’s the bad news?” The doctor says, “Based on your condition and the rate of your decline, you have just 24 hours left to live.” The patient responds, “Oh no! So what’s the very bad news?” And the doctor says, “I forgot to tell you that yesterday.”

So we’ve had a lot of bad news this year. At one point, the worst thing we were concerned about was Murder Hornets. Remember that? Oh, those were the good old days, right? They sounded so bad, but then nothing really happened with them. We just kind of stopped talking about them. Since then, we’ve heard about the coronavirus, George Floyd, protests, riots, wildfires, and I’m sure tons of other things that I’m forgetting because this is, after all, the year 2020.

But it’s not just this year. We may be hyper aware of it this year, but there always seems to be bad news, doesn’t there? And there always seems like there’s a crisis that needs to averted. There always seems to be a conspiracy that needs to be addressed. And, not only that, but people always seem to love bad news. The media is usually filled with bad news because bad news causes fear, and fear keeps us glued to the news, which is good for their ratings, which is good for making money.

You know, people say that bad news travels faster than good news, and there’s probably some truth to that.

But what if we could change that? What if we got so excited about the good news that we had great joy, and that we shared it with all the people? And just how good would the good news need to be so that we would see it as good for all the people?

Luke 2:8-12.

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. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:8-12)

Father, help us to believe the good news, and share the good news with all the world. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

A lot of people today think that if God exists at all, then God is at the very least completely silent. Many people believe that even if God cares about us, He certainly doesn’t say it or do anything to show it. And maybe there was a time in your life, or maybe right now, that you thought that you really needed some good news from God, but you didn’t hear a thing.

There have definitely been seasons in my life that felt like that. When we suddenly had a little baby girl in our home about a year and a half ago because she needed a short term foster family, we gladly took her in. But when it looked like she would actually need long term care, or even a permanent family to eventually adopt her, we were torn. We had grown attached to her, but with all of Raelynn’s needs, we knew that we probably weren’t able to give her the attention she needed. So I prayed and asked God to direct me, but I didn’t hear anything in response. So even for several weeks after we let her go into a new home, I was torn. I was upset. I was afraid that maybe I had done the wrong thing, and I really wish I had heard a clear message from God.

Does God speak to His people? I mean, we might accept that maybe He did a long time ago, but wonder if God still speaks to His people today? Does God speak to us through prayer? I mean, wouldn’t it be great if God actually spoke to us today like He did to so many people in Bible times?

In our passage this morning, we read about how 2,000 years ago, God sent an angel to the earth with a message. We’re going to focus primarily this morning on the first thing the angel told the shepherds in the field that first Christmas night.

The angel began by saying, “Fear not.” Apparently, the sight of the angel surprised the shepherds, and they naturally were filled with great fear. Angels in the Bible aren’t these cute little babies with wings just hanging out on fluffy white clouds. Angels appeared to be great warriors equipped for battle. So the shepherds very well could have been afraid because they thought that God had sent this angel to kill them! They saw the angel, and immediately they assumed that the angel was going to deliver bad news. And yet, the angel began by saying, “Fear not.”

With so much bad news all the time, especially this year, I think God gives us this same message today. Maybe it’s not delivered by an angel, but that’s only because we have something even more sure. We have His word. If someone were to see an angel today, and were to tell others about it, I’m sure a lot of people would doubt what he said that he saw and heard. But with God’s word, we can point to a chapter and verse, and everyone can see exactly what God says.

And in His word, God sends us this message that we don’t have to fear. What are you most afraid of in this life? Maybe you’re afraid for your children, or afraid of sicknesses beyond your control, or afraid of certain people having control of our nation and laws. But I think even in the midst of all these kinds of situations, even if they don’t go the way you want, God still gives us the message, “Fear not.”

You see, we don’t have to fear what all of the rest of the world fears. We don’t have to fear corrupt politicians, or wars, or rumors of wars. We don’t have to fear pandemics or Murder Hornets. We don’t even have to fear our enemy, the devil.

And yet, the Bible does mention one Person that we should fear. Jesus talked about Him in Matthew 10:28. It says:

Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)

That’s God. We don’t need to fear people, or the devil, because the most they can do is kill our body. But God has the ability to destroy both our soul and our body in hell. So fear Him.

In fact, the Bible says over and over again that we should fear God.

Ecclesiastes 12:13.

Fear God and keep his commandments. (Ecclesiastes 12:13b)

Psalm 33:8.

Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! (Psalm 33:8)

Proverbs 1:7.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. (Proverbs 1:7a)

So according to the Bible, in order to know anything at all, we first need to have the foundation of having a fear, that is, a reverent awe, of God. That’s the only Person the Bible ever says that we must fear. You must fear God.

But then just after saying that, Jesus also said this in Matthew 10, starting in verse 29.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:29-30)

So we should fear God, and yet then Jesus also says, “Fear not,” because God cares for you. You’re valuable to Him. Fear Him who can destroy your soul and body in hell, and yet fear not.

So it seems there are actually two messages about fear in the Bible. So which one is it? Should we fear God, or fear not? Well, yes. In light of our sin, we ought to fear God. Our sin means that we’re objects of wrath, and God would rightly show us His wrath for all eternity. But in light of Jesus, all our sin is washed away, so we should fear not.

I kind of think a lot of us haven’t fully gotten that second message. We still seem to like bad news. We cling to the bad news as if the bad news is all there is. We seem to love to share the bad news with others, as if that’s all there is to share. We continue to fear wrath, as if we’re still under judgment. But the good news is that God’s wrath has been satisfied through Jesus and His death on the cross. So, fear not.

That’s the message that the angel brought to the shepherds on the night Jesus was born. They said:

Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. (Luke 2:10)

I think many of us have read this story so many times that we somehow miss how awesome this news is. After saying, “Fear not,” the angel said, “Behold!” That means, “Look at this!” And don’t just take a quick glance and then go about your day, but stop and meditate on this. Gaze on it, and be amazed by what the angel said.

Do you do that? Christmas is far more than a time to get together with family. It’s more than Santa and presents and eating a big meal. It’s the time that we behold what we really ought to be amazed at every minute of every day: the news that the angel brought to the shepherds. Christmas is the time that we’ve set aside to remember and be in awe that the Savior of all the world was born. It’s good news of great joy! So don’t allow yourself to be unaffected by the news. Behold it.

Albert Einstein once said:

“He who can no longer pause to wonder, is as good as dead.” -Albert Einstein

And how much more true is that when it comes to being in awe of Jesus being born? So behold the news about Jesus. It’s good news of great joy.

In other words, this news should make you happy. And not just a little happy, but full of joy! Great joy! As much as you’ve ever had great fear because of the events going on in your life or in the world, God wants you to have a great joy that answers all those fears, and even obliterates those fears because the good news is so incredibly good. And if it’s never done that for you, maybe you need to spend some more time beholding it.

This is the news that the one and only God, who we’ve offended with our sin, came down in the form of a man so that we could be forgiven of our sins. He’s the Savior. He’s the Christ. He’s the Lord. And He was born as one of us so that we could know Him and have salvation in Him.

In a world that seems to love bad news, Christmas reminds us of the solution to all the bad news. In the end, God will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And it’s all because Jesus came to be the Savior of the world. This truly is good news of great joy.

Because notice one more thing the angel said. This news would be for all the people. The good news isn’t just for one segment of people, but for all people.

This message of the gospel isn’t just for people who were born in a certain country, or who were born with certain parents, or who happened to be raised a certain way. No, the gospel is good news of great joy for all people everywhere.

Our world wants to believe there are many ways to heaven. But Jesus said:

I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

Jesus is the only way to the Father in heaven. There is no other way. And this is good news! God provided a way when there was no way. When it’s so easy to let our lives be characterized by fear and hopelessness, God gave us Jesus, who would show us the way to the Father.

And what way did Jesus show us? After preaching that we should love our neighbor, and even love our enemies, Jesus showed us how we do that by dying on a cross.

You see, God is not silent. Like I said just a few minutes ago, God speaks to His people through His word. And John 1:14 says:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. (John 1:14a)

That’s talking about Jesus.

So God speaks to us by entering into our pains. He enters our world. He enters our hospital, if you will, not only to eventually deliver us from it, but also to comfort us while we’re in it. And I think that God does speak to us through prayer, but maybe not always in the way that we want. Maybe God keeps from speaking to us audibly so that we can rely more on how He’s already spoken. God spoke to us once and for all, clearly, and decisively, through Jesus dying on the cross. At that moment, God loudly shouted to us and to all the world, “I love you.”

1 Timothy 4:10 says:

We have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. (1 Timothy 4:10b)

Don’t gloss over what this verse is saying. Jesus is the Savior of all people. There is no other Savior. And I’m not about to do some exegetical tap dance to explain that away. I think this verse means exactly what it sounds like it means, and it clearly says that belief in Jesus brings the fullest culmination of the blessing of salvation.

Jesus is the Savior of all people, and it’s through faith in Him that we’re saved. We’re not saved through perfect circumstances or our own good efforts, and we’re definitely not saved by politicians, even if they agree with us. We’re saved by Jesus. Jesus is the good news of great joy, and putting your hope in anything else is a false hope, and will ultimately only let you down and fill you with fear.

So if your life is still plagued by fear of the bad news, then maybe you haven’t yet truly allowed the good news to sink in. If the main thing you share with your friends and enemies is that there’s a whole bunch of bad news, then maybe you haven’t been dwelling enough on the good news.

I mean, really, just how good does the good news need to be so that we would see it as good for all the people? How high or low is your bar for something that’s newsworthy? And you’re not regularly sharing Jesus with others, have you really seen the gospel as good news of great joy, not just for you, but for all the world?

God loves you. And, God loves your neighbor, and calls for you to love your neighbor. And, God loves your enemy, and calls for you to love your enemy. And God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

And that’s good news that’s worth sharing.

I invite you this morning to believe the good news. Jesus came, and died for your sin, and rose again that you might live a new life in Him. Not a life of fear, but one of life and joy.

Pastor Chris Huff

Pastor Chris Huff has been with us since July 2009.  He and his wife, Abby, have four children.  Chris is originally from St. Louis, MO and even though he was raised as a city boy, he has a small town heart. Chris is all over the internet, so you can find him on Facebook, Twitter,… (read more)

Series: Good News

What do we mean when we say that the gospel is good news? Do we treat like it’s good news? This series will explore how the gospel truly is good news of great joy that shall be for all the people. Sermons: November 29, 2020: Anointed to Bring Good News (Isaiah 61:1-4) December 6, 2020: Good… (read more)

Bible Passages: Luke 2:8-12
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