The Greatest Announcement
December 23rd, 2021
I watched this morning a message from the United States' 45th President, Donald J Trump, that was recorded last Sunday at Pastor Robert
Jeffress' First Baptist Church Dallas TX. It was great to see a US President stand firm on his faith in Jesus by delivering a message that the hope and prosperity of our nation is in Jesus Christ. A very "un-politically correct" message. During his talk he shared how even though America is in trouble that America will become great again. The crowd responded with a great roar of applause. Because it was a great announcement. And one that we as Americans need to hear.
Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a great announcement about the freedoms due all mankind, regardless of their race, and as Americans we need to change. A great announcement.
But the greatest announcement was given to poor shepherds on a countryside hill some 2000 years ago. An announcement that would change the world. The greatest announcement ever given.
An announcement of this significance could not be given by faulty men. An announcement of this significance could only be given by Angels, sent from God, to make the greatest announcement to mankind ever delivered. The announcement that the Savior of the World has come.
LUKE 2:8-14 (KJV)
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 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.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
The announcement of the birth of Jesus was the most important announcement given to mankind, to that point and through today and eternity.
First, the announcement was not to rich kings and world rulers. No, it was to poor shepherds. Often society's outcast. Normally among the lowest of occupations of the time. Shepherds were mostly uneducated and poor.
Secondly, the prelude to the message was to not be afraid. Can you imagine being sitting on a hill late at night keeping watch over a herd of sheep, in the dark of the night, no sounds but the quiet bellowing of sheep as they slept, when suddenly you were alarmed by a great light and the appearance of an Angel? Who wouldn't be afraid? But the Angel first told them to calm down, have no fear. It was certainly an awe-inspiring event.
Thirdly, the message itself was one of hope. The shepherds were in a time of political and moral decay. The shepherds had seen the rich of their society take advantage of the poor like themselves over and over. The shepherds had witnessed sickness and pain and disease and lack of freedoms. The shepherds had to be believers in God or they would not have known the significance of the announcement. In this announcement, the shepherds found hope.
"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 Savior, which is Christ the Lord" (Luke
The "good tidings of great joy" were that the Savior had come. The shepherds knew what this meant.
In that time, the Israelites understood in the Scriptures that God created heaven and earth and man, that man sinned, that a great gulf was fixed between man and a Holy God that no man could cross, that a redemptive act through the shedding of innocent blood was required to bring man back into relationship with God. For ages God's people had given countless sacrifices of the blood of ox and lamb and turtledoves as an atonement for their sins. Yet they knew the Scriptures plainly spoke of a coming Messiah, sent from God in Heaven to Earth to be a permanent redemption from their sins. Not just a temporary atonement, but a permanent salvation. These shepherds no doubt knew this message and believed that one day God would send the Messiah to save them from their sins. They had heard this message from their childhoods that one day would be made real.
And now, of all people, the Lord's Angel delivered this message to them!
What good tidings of great joy! The Savior of the world had come! God had come to Earth. Redemption was possible! The words of all the Scriptures pointed to the day when the Messiah, the Savior of mankind, would come. And now this announcement was made to them!
This announcement of 2000 years ago is just as real today as it was that dark cold night.
This greatest of announcements did not have to come to only the rich and political leaders. This announcement could be made to everyone, regardless of rich or poor, regardless of the color of their skin, regardless if they were well or sick, regardless if they were accepted by society or rejected by society. Man's rules of society didn't matter. The announcement that the Messiah, the Savior, had come was for everyone regardless of any other factor other than that they were human. The greatest of announcements came to humble poor people on that night. The greatest of announcements has come to you today.
This greatest of announcements was precluded by awe and fear. Quickly the Angel calmed down those fears. We have plenty of fears in the world today. Fear of sickness or death from an infectious disease. Fear of forceable actions against our personal desires by our governments. Fear of rejection. Fear of failure. Fear of poverty. Fear of inflation. Fear of war. Fear of famine. Fear of political unrest. Fear of loss of freedoms. Fear of being taken advantage of by those more powerful. We do not need to choose to live in fear, but in the power of faith in Jesus Christ, the Messiah who came to the world 2000 years ago, in whose birth we celebrate among the greatest of holidays, Christmas.
This greatest of announcements declares the same message today as it did 2000 years ago to the shepherds on a hill. A message of hope. Hope in a time when the world seems to have gone crazy. Hope in a time when we have no faith in our governments or society. Hope in a time of political and moral decay. Hope in a time of fear of sickness. Hope in a time when the world around us seems hopeless. For the shepherds they understood that it meant no more temporary efforts of shedding of blood of animals to appease a Holy God, but that the redemptive power of God could only come from God Himself. The shepherds understood the Scriptures' foretelling the Savior that was coming to give them hope and save them from their sins, and today we share the same message of hope. Today we need not fear sickness because Jesus the Messiah is the "Great Physician" who can heal us from our diseases. Today we need not fear death because Jesus Christ died as a human but was raised from the dead as God, and as He prepares for us a place in Heaven, we too realize that death has no hold on us. Today we need not fear poverty because God through Jesus the Messiah answers our prayers and will "give us this day our daily bread". We need not fear because we are God's children and He loves us and will take care of us. We need not fear Hell because of our belief in Jesus Christ which redeems us from all our sin. We need not fear eternity because Jesus Himself promises to prepare for us a place in Heaven.
The same Jesus who was born to a virgin 2000 years ago can live in your heart today if you let Him. The same Jesus whose birth we celebrate at Christmas can give you joy and life year-round. The same Jesus to whom the shepherds knelt before a babe in a manger can be the Lord of your life and direct your paths and give you a better life. The same Jesus that was announced by the Angel that night to the unsuspecting poor shepherds is announced to you today as the real meaning of Christmas.
So in this Christmas season of 2021, look beyond the bright lights of the houses along the streets. Look beyond the shopping malls with their decorated wares. Look beyond the tree in your own home, decorated with lights and ornaments. Look beyond the presents under the tree. Look beyond the Salvation Army Santa and his bell. Look beyond the Christmas pageants and singing. Look beyond the time with families and friends. Look beyond the church on the hillside with its nativity scene in all its splendor.
This Christmas, look to the hill upon which the shepherds sat in the cold night. Look to the presence of the Angel of God. Look to God reaching down from Heaven to people regardless of their socio-economic position. Look to the announcement, the greatest announcement ever made, about the Savior coming from Heaven to Earth to redeem a lost mankind. Look at this announcement not just a part of history, but God Himself whispering to you this moment that the salvation through Jesus Christ the Messiah is for you too. Today. At this very moment.
If you have accepted the gift of salvation and eternity with God through Jesus Christ already, then celebrate the season with joy and thanksgiving. And share this gift with others. It's the greatest gift you could ever share.
If you have never accepted the free gift of salvation, better than anything you could find under your tree, then accept it today. Say "yes" to peace, to salvation, to eternity in Heaven. Say "yes" to Jesus the Messiah. The Savior of the world. Which includes you.
If you have never accepted this greatest of gifts, then say this prayer right now. "Dear God, I know I have done wrong. I know that I have sinned. I realize that I cannot save myself. I believe that your Son Jesus came to earth as a baby, just as told in the Christmas story. I also believe that your Son Jesus came to save me from my sins. I accept that Jesus died in my place and rose from the dead so that one day I can too. I accept this free gift today. From this day forward I put my faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Today I celebrate my new birth as a Christian. Thank you God for saving me. In Jesus name I pray. Amen."
I wish you all joy through the Lord Jesus Christ in whom all our trust lies.