Over the Sundays of Advent this year, we’re thinking about the Christmas story. This is part 3, and you can read parts 1 and 2 here.
Three months after Mary visited Elizabeth, John was born, and Zechariah got his voice back. Picture that house in those first few months – baby John crying at the top of his lungs, Dad shouting and praising and laughing, Mum sleepless and probably wondering where that peace and quiet went!
And six months later, it was time for another birth. People took commitment very seriously in those days and once you were promised to someone in marriage, you were virtually part of their family, so Mary had gone to Bethlehem with Joseph. It was Joseph’s hometown and they needed to register for the census, which the government was taking. All those years ago, Micah the prophet had talked about Bethlehem being the birthplace of the Messiah (Micah 5:2-4). Now here they were in Bethlehem, when the time came for Mary’s baby to be born. That must have filled her with wonder all over again.
The news was told to some shepherds outside the town. If you can imagine a class system, shepherds would be the lowest of the low, and yet the angel of the LORD appeared to them. “Do not be afraid,” he said. “I am bringing you good news that will be a great joy to all the people” (Luke 2:10).
Soon a whole company joined the angel and the sky was filled with praises to God! Then the angels left the shepherds to spring into action, but what would have happened if they’d all looked up at the sky, laughed nervously, shook their heads and said: “Can it be true? What would a Saviour want with scum like us? We’re not sure about this; let’s not go to Bethlehem”? If they’d let fear stop them, what a miserable night it would have been – no hurrying to Bethlehem; no finding Jesus in the manger; no glorifying and praising God; no bubbling over with joy and telling everyone they came into contact with … Just another night watching their sheep. As the years went on, the encounter with the angels might just have seemed like a distant dream.
Have you had good news lately that you’re afraid to accept? In every area of our life, we’ve got to conquer fear before we can live in faith. If you’ve had good news, can I encourage you to embrace it? To celebrate it? To live it?