The First Evangelists!
Last week in our blog we started looking at the importance of angels in the biblical narrative as we saw them declaring the good news of Messiah’s birth to both Mary and Joseph. We see angels are the first evangelists of the gospel message. We read in Luke’s gospel, “And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about 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 baby wrapped in swaddling cloths lying in a manger,” (Luke2: 9 – 12 NKJV). The angels are the first preachers of the new dispensation, and they were surrounded by a brightness that superseded the sun. In the “inn” very little attention was paid to what was happening back in the manger, but in the heavens, the heavenly host couldn’t contain their joy. The angels worship God in an eternal state, reverencing and admiring His work and praising Him for all He does. How little praise and glory God gets from the vast majority of humanity in this world, many of whom deny His very existence.
The angel’s appearance struck the shepherds with a great sense of terror, which is the natural reaction to the supernatural manifestation of God’s majesty, and yet they were about to experience a night that would never be forgotten. The angel’s first words, “don’t be afraid” should have brought immediate comfort to their souls. The news that the angel is sharing is going to turn their fear into a great source of rejoicing. It is a declaration that God has not forsaken His lost humanity. The angel declares that he is “sharing good news of great joy which shall be to all people”. On Mount Sinai in the giving of the law, there was a response of fear and quaking. When the law was given it demonstrated a holy, just, and righteous God, but it wasn’t good news to sinful man. In fact, the law was brought forth to expose us to our own sinful hearts before God. But the message that a Savior has been born reveals to us that the God of the universe desires to have a personal relationship with each and every one of us. The good news the angels declared is to be great joy because it addresses the heart of the greatest need of humanity, the forgiveness of sin. God has provided help and we can find deep joy in a relationship with our heavenly Father through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice also that this is a universal proclamation going out to “all people”, for it was for all the people of the world that Jesus died, not just the elect.
The angels declared that a “Savior” has been born. The very term “Savior” predisposes that there is a danger. Humanity is in a wretched, fallen state, but God has sent a rescuer who will snatch us out from the gates of hell. The term, “to you” is empathetic, indicating that there was an anticipation of a coming Savior. That term also indicates to us the personal proclamation of this universal declaration, it is for each and every one of us. The voice of heavenly wisdom is crying out to the shepherds to respond in faith, as God’s Holy Spirit cries out to us to respond in faith. The angel declares that this new child is “Christ the Lord” which is the highest possible declaration that can be stated about the Lord Jesus Christ.
I’m reminded of the words of one of my favorite Christmas hymns, “What Child is This?” when the hymn writer writes, “What Child is this, who, laid to rest, on Mary’s lap is sleeping? Whom angels greet with anthem sweet, While shepherds watch are keeping? This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing; this, this is Christ the King, the Babe, the Son of Mary”. Let us join with the angels this Christmas season in declaring the majesty of the Son of God who has come to be our Savior.
Rejoicing in the Son,
Pastor Rich Sivo