ANCHOR OF HOPE: The joy of knowing Jesus
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.” (Luke 2:8-20)
Can you imagine being one of the shepherds working third shift that night when God sent His own messengers to share the greatest news to be delivered to mankind — A Savior is born!
This group of shepherds, viewed within society as commoners, received “good tidings of great joy.” Within the passage above we see a range of emotions from the shepherds. They start off with fear because of the unknown, followed by amazement because of the announcement, and finally finish with joy because of meeting Jesus. The events that occurred just over 2,000 years ago are still producing the same range of emotions today.
For the shepherds it was a normal evening as they enjoyed the sunset just before the night in which they would receive the news of Christ’s birth. They had no knowledge of the coming events. The biblical account says once the angel of the Lord appeared to bring them the announcement they became “sore afraid.” An unforeseen, unknown event had disturbed their nightly routine and caused them to become fearful.
Once the shepherds understood the message and purpose of the unknown events, their fear turned into amazement. The “good tidings of great joy” seems to dispel the fear that was invoked by the unknown. The awesome announcement that Jesus Christ the Savior of man was born amazed that common crowd, the shepherds. So much so that it physically motivated them and moved them to immediately make haste and go to Bethlehem.
Finally in Bethlehem the shepherds amazement is fulfilled and converted into joy — abundant happiness that in spite of condition or circumstance cannot be altered within the heart. Eventually the shepherds would make their way back to tending their sheep. As they reflected on their initial fear, that was turned into amazement, that ultimately was converted into joy, they could not help but to glorify and praise God for the marvelous things he had done.
In closing, you may experience fear because of the unknown. “Fear not” I have “good tidings of great Joy” — Jesus loves you. He was born for one purpose and that was to die so that you and I might be able to live. If we by faith believe in Jesus He promises not only eternal life, but life more abundantly. Our fear of the unknown is turned into amazement because of the fact Jesus loves us. That amazement is ultimately converted to joy, and joy produces praise that glorifies Him.
May each of you have a joyful Merry Christmas.
Tim Braddock is pastor of Emerald Coast Baptist Church and can be reached at Tbraddock@emeraldcoastbc.com.