“Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy; which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11
The angel made a few things clear to the shepherds on that first Christmas evening. One was that the good news he was proclaiming would bring great joy when it was properly received. Two was that the good news was for everyone who would receive it, not just for the Jews, or for a select remnant, but for “all the people.” Third, although the good news was comprehensive, it was also personal, because the Savior was born, “for you.” They weren’t going to the manger to witness something that was for someone else only, but to see the One born for them.
God doesn’t really give joy away, He only shares it. “In His Presence is fullness of joy…” (Psalm 16:11) You only get joy when you get near God because the joy you feel is His. Jesus said, “These things I have spoken that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11) We share in His joy when we get close enough to Him to experience it. “The joy of the Lord is your strength…” (Nehemiah 8:10) Not “…joy is your strength”, but God’s joy is your strength. He doesn’t give it away, He invites us into it.
These rabbinic shepherds in Bethlehem were watching over the lambs that would be used in the temple for sacrifice. The blood of these lambs would make it possible for God to be in covenant with sinful people, but it was an imperfect covenant because the sacrifices kept having to be made year after year. The good news announced that first Christmas was that another Lamb was born, a human One, who would take away the sins of the world. Great joy comes from recognizing God loves us, Jesus came for us, and died to bring us into the very presence of the joyful God.
Let’s believe this Christmas, and let’s get close, so that His joy overflows through us to a world that needs to see God’s smile.