And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”Luke 2:8-14, ESV
Good News is Good…
The angelic messenger declared to the shepherds of Bethlehem’s plain, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” What is this good news and why is it good? First, the good news is focused on the newborn who is said to be laying in a manger wrapped in swaddling cloths. The good news from Heaven to earth is a child who is the son of David according to the flesh and the eternal Son of God. Second, what makes makes this news good? This child who was born in Bethlehem to Mary was the Saviour of the world, the mediator between God and man, and the beginning of God’s promise for redemption fulfilled.
Redemption is a central theme to the Biblical text. Tracing its thread backward to the fall of humanity in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3) is where we see the origin of our brokenness. The world was created very good and we were made in the image of God, but the world was corrupted (Rom 8) and the image of God in us was marred (James 1) by that original rebellion. God made a promise to destroy the works of the devil (Gen 3, 1 John 3:8) through the seed of a woman (Gen 3, Luke 1:34). That original promise to redeem humanity through the work of a single man (Rom 5) was precious and in the ears of the shepherds the angels declared the good news of that original promise for redemption had begun to be fulfilled.
The Good News is Good for Who?…
What people is this news good for? Is the good news for all people everywhere? Yes and no. That answer could sound controversial but I don’t think it is. Let me explain a little. First, how could the good news be bad for some? The good news is subjectively good for some and subjectively bad news for others. How? All who would reject this news will be rejecting God (John 8:24). Rejecting God is akin to choosing darkness rather than light, disease rather than healing, starvation rather than food, abandonment rather than family, hatred rather than love, and death rather than life. The good news is good, but all who would choose to reject it will receive the just reward of their rebellion. What is the just reward for the rebellion? In parables, Jesus often describes the reward of rejecting God as a fiery doom (Matt 13:42).
Second, the good news is both subjectively good for all who receive it and objectively good apart from its reception. Personally, as someone who has received the truth of Christ, I can attest to the goodness of the good news. In the immortal words of John Newton, “I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see.” I have been made an adopted child of God (Rom 8). The good news is good for me. Would the good news still be good if I had not received it? Yes. The good news of Jesus Christ is objectively good. The Almighty Creator who brought all things into existence out of nothing chose to create a living being from the dust and breathed into Him the breath of life. That living soul who owed his creator everything rebelled in an attempt to become autonomous. His attempt to make his own definition of what is good and what is evil was his undoing. God said “you shall not eat” but Adam chose to rebel. His choice was a rejection of God was unwittingly choosing spiritual darkness rather than light, disease rather than wholeness, starvation rather than plenty, abandonment rather than fellowship, hatred rather than love, and death rather than life. Now mankind is in a different relationship with God. God was now the Righteous One who is Judge, but He had already decided to be more than a Judge. He was a Judge but also a forgiving Father. The good news was the fulfilled promise to remedy the evil of Adam’s fall. This son of David/Son of God would reconcile both God and man through offering His own soul as a sacrifice for sins (Isa 53:10). The good news is objectively good!