“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.’”Luke 2:10-11
This is the most glorious news that we humans can receive. Here in Luke 2, we are told that the Lord’s glory shone around the shepherds in Bethlehem’s field. This was a light from eternity. It gives us a glimpse of the greatness of heavenly glory. Stars paled and night became day when the glory of the Lord shone around them. This heavenly glory shines on, from year to year, from century to century, until the Lord comes again.
It is reported of the shepherds that they were very afraid. Whenever the luminosity of God shines into the darkness of this world, terror is the first reaction. Let us think of Zacharias there in the temple or also when the angel appeared to Mary. John also experienced this holy fright when on the island of Patmos he saw the exalted Lord with His eyes like flames of fire. John fell down like a dead man before this incomprehensible glory. May we also comprehend this glory of God so that it illuminates us and we are in awe before the Eternal, Who was there, Who is there, and Who is coming.
The words of the angel to the shepherds are the first Christmas sermon. It is short, but every word is important. It has much to tell us.
The first triad: Do not be afraid – great joy – all people
“Do not be afraid!” – Where the glory of the Lord shines, there is no more room for fear; there is only room for joy. “Do not be afraid!” – what a message! The angel was sent to proclaim the good news, the everlasting gospel. Let us never stop paying attention to this message in a world of turmoil and fear! Christ came, and He will come again to take His own to Himself.
“Great joy” – this is the essence of the new covenant. All the sadness of this world can be outshone by this joy. All sin and guilt is nullified by the great joy that Jesus has brought. Yes, Christ the Savior is here and has given us this joy. The time of salvation and grace has dawned. God’s face is turned toward us. The true light is shining now, and that is great joy.
This joy is to “all people.” The Christmas sermon is for all people. No one is excluded from it. The world will be helped if it accepts this message. No one has to be lost.
The second triad: He is born – born to you – born this day
Christ is born. The life of every human being begins with birth. Here, the Son of God, the eternal Word, became human. He knows how we feel in this poor earthly life. That is why He became a compassionate high priest for us who bears our guilt, hears us, forgives our guilt, and makes us members of His Church.
Christ is born – born to you – born this day. He was already there before the foundation of the world; indeed, He is eternal, but now He has entered our time. In His high priestly prayer, He said, “…with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” “For there is born to you this day…a Savior” rings in the heart of a searching person who wants to find divine peace in their longing and restlessness.
The third triad: A Savior – Christ – the Lord
The word “Savior” is often used in the New Testament. It means: no one else can save us but He, the Savior. With this word, the angel proclaimed the great work of Jesus Christ.
“Christ” – that is His title, Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah. He is a priest-king. In the Old Testament, prophets, priests, and kings were anointed. In Christ, these offices are united. He is our High Priest and our King, indeed, the King of all kings. Only through faith in Him can we become children of God. Only He can call us out of darkness into His marvelous light. He can save us from the power of sin. Christ must live in us, otherwise the birth of Christ and also His suffering and death have no value for us personally.
The angel said: “Lord.” A newborn child is called “Lord.” He is the Lord of all mankind. He wants to be our Lord, but He does not want to enslave us as Satan does.
What a Christmas present! This is cause for great joy. Yes, we may have this joy, “for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).