Bob Dylan once wrote, “The times, they are a changin’.” The rapid pace of change and information is staggering for us today. The television screen has more than just the talking head delivering the news. There are rows of information scrolling across the bottom and even the sides of the screen. Even choosing which network from which one seeks to receive the news is a dicey situation.
There is so much news that people filter which news you receive and what analysis they provide into such news. Finally, we have no crossed over into an era of “fake news.” News of questionable veracity has gone far beyond the check=out line at the grocery store. Threats to our nation now come in the form of “Troll Farms/Factories” where hackers create such fake news and disseminate it through social media. When it comes to the news today, who can you believe? How do you know that news is true?
When the angels appeared to the shepherds on the night of Jesus’ birth, they announced to them that they had “good news.” This is a word ripe with meaning. Particularly in Isaiah’s prophecies, we hear about the promised Messiah who would bring good news to the people. In Isaiah chapter 40, The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!” God’s people had not known good news for a long time. They had been promised that the Messiah would come and would bring with Him good news, but the people had waited and waited. Were such promises fake news? Were they words from a charlatan rather than a faithful God?
No! When the time had fully come, God sent His Son to be the fulfillment of those true and certain promises. In appearing to the shepherds, the angel is the herald who announces that God has kept His promise. “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.”
The angel’s announcement is not the product of deceit but a true promise. For thousands of years the people had been waiting for God to keep His Word. When the shepherds behold the promised Messiah, they know that the good news that was announced true. This child came to bring peace between God and His wayward creation. This baby came to bring joy to people who had known only despair. This Messiah came to bring good news of the Kingdom of God coming near to people who lived under the oppression of sinful, selfish, earthly kings.
After Jesus’ ascension, the book of Acts is an account of how the good news is spread to the far reaches of the known world. Philip, Peter, Barnabas and Paul are all heralds as they proclaim the good news of peace through Jesus. As this Good News of the Gospel is proclaimed and taught today, God is still fulfilling His promise as heralds announce the Good News of the Messiah. Even though the word is spoken by sinful people this news is true and it is good because it gives joy and peace to all who believe.
As you celebrate our Savior’s birth, may you be filled with the same joy and peace as those shepherds who heard the Good News proclaimed by the herald angels. May God bless your celebrations with your church family and all your loved ones! You can count on this good news! “Fear not, 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!”
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan