“And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it. No lion will be there, nor any ravenous beast; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, and those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” – Isaiah 35:8-10
“I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” – Luke 2:10-11
“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” – Luke 2:20
“‘Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given to her to wear.’ (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.) Then the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ And he added, ‘These are the true words of God.’” – Revelation 19:7-9
On the first Christmas, while the shepherds kept watch over their sheep one dark night, suddenly a great light overwhelmed them. Angels appeared praising God and proclaiming Jesus’ birth with jubilation. The heavens burst with delight.
The news of the Good Shepherd came to the ones who worked so hard to care for their flocks. They had surely fought with ravenous beasts; were wary of the destruction done by lions on the path. Yet one day there would be everlasting joy. Sorrow and sighing would flee and the prowling enemy would no longer have any power. The shepherds who raised the very animals chosen by the Lord to be sacrificed for our sins, were some of the first to hear of Jesus’ arrival, the Lamb of God who would die in order to take away our sins forever.
When they found out, they hurried off to see the baby, and after seeing him, quickly spread the word around town. Joy was for them. Joy was for all the people! The shepherds were overcome with gladness and their response was to share the good news with others and worship God for all he had done.
It was the middle of the story, but God gave them a glimpse of happiness to come. He does the same for us. The story ends with a wedding, a feast, a joyful gathering. As with any good story, we’ve been promised a happily ever after. For all of us who accept God’s invitation to the party, we have reason to celebrate. Even here on our third week of Advent, while we wait for the Lord’s return, God graciously offers us glimpses of that joy.
Our Good Shepherd, We are full of gladness when we think of your good news for all the people that was proclaimed that Christmas night. Thank you that the end of the story is already written and that we’ve been promised everlasting joy. Help us to have eyes to see glimpses of this even now. May what we see motivate us to share your story with others and to worship you regardless of circumstance. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
› Imagine what it must have been like to be one of the shepherds in the field when the angels showed up. How did you first hear of the news of Jesus? In what ways are you similar to the shepherds?
› In your words, what did the angel mean by “great joy that will be for all the people?” How is the gospel good news for you, those in your life, and people around the world?
› How has God surprised you with glimpses of future joy recently? How have you responded to those glimpses in the present?