December 24 I Saturday
“There were shepherds living out in the fields near by, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them….But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” —Luke 2:8-10
When we study a biblical text, it is always good to look for a command that is given or principles that are outlined. As we study the Christmas story, we will find that only one command is given: “Do not be afraid” (Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:13, 30; 2:10). This phrase is repeated every time the angel appeared before people. Certainly, having an angel appear before one is frightening enough to cause one to fear, but the phrase “Do not be afraid” is consistent with the message of Christmas.
When God created Adam and Eve in the beginning, He told them not to eat the forbidden fruit, but the serpent deceived Eve; she ate of the fruit and gave some to her husband. After they ate the fruit, they realized that they were naked and hid from God. The story continues, “The LORD God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’ He answered, ‘I heard You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid’” (Genesis 3:9-10). From the moment that sin took root in the human condition, we have feared God because we know our barren state before Him, our unrighteous position before a holy God.
What is intriguing about the Christmas story is that the last people the angel said “Do not be afraid” to are the shepherds. In the town of Bethlehem, filled with the descendants of David because of the census, there were marketplace leaders and religious leaders that the angels could have announced the birth of the Messiah to, but instead, they announced it to shepherds who were out in the field watching their flocks at night. During the New Testament time, shepherds were not the most sought out people in society. They were not important, educated or gifted. On the contrary, they were dirty, smelly and disregarded in society. The task of watching sheep was given to people who were not good for much else other than watching over some sheep; it was the lowest common denominator of a task.
What Christmas tells us is that no matter who we are, what we have done or how we are living our life, God can use us. We do not have to have it all figured out and we do not have to get ourselves all cleaned up. This is because the message of Christmas is a message of grace, or God’s unmerited favour. It does not matter what world religion, school of thought or philosophy we hold to, if we are a human on this planet, Christ came for us. Whom can we share this marvelous truth with this Christmas?
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, thank You for coming for us. I am humbled by Your unmerited favour. Please give me the boldness and courage to share the good news of Your salvation with someone this Christmas.