A year of multifaceted good news
Luke Chapter 2 gives us an account of the good news of the birth of Jesus announced to the shepherds taking care of their flocks at night in the field of Bethlehem near where Jesus was born. While the shepherds were in the fields in the dark night, the angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to them unexpectedly. The glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. The angel scared the living daylight out of them.
The angel said to them: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people … You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
The birth of God’s long-awaited Son was introduced to a darkened, weary, and exhausted world. History tells us that the time of our Lord’s birth was, indeed, a time of weariness and widespread despair among men and nations of the earth. The civilizations of that day had all played themselves out. This is how Matthew Arnold describes the world in which the Lord came: “On that hard, pagan world, disgust and secret loathing fell. Deep weariness and sated lust made human life a hell.”
It is striking that the human emotion that was first encountered by the angelic messenger was that of fear. Men were afraid in that day. They were afraid of many things, as they are today. There was Herod the Great on the throne. Herod was cruel. He was able to accomplish his wrath upon whoever was the object of his disfavour. He had personally put to death many, even in his own family, because of their antagonism to his plans. Also, there were the Romans with their proud legions, marching up and down across the face of the earth, holding everything in a severe and iron bondage. Many wars broke out and the economy was uncertain. The people were afraid.
Perhaps the most striking thing to us about this story is that we can so easily put ourselves back into that situation of fear, for by far the dominant mood of the hour today is that of fear. Yet, the first words of the angel to those shepherds in the field were: “Fear not. Be not afraid.” I do not think any greater news can come to us than that announcement. It came to them, as the angel went on to tell them that a Saviour was born in Bethlehem ¬–– a Deliverer. Because of the presence of a Deliverer, they need not be afraid of anything, Praise the Lord!
The situation of fear in Bethlehem describes the perpetual sense of insecurity and uncertainty that we are all living with in our world today. Nobody is sure of what will happen next because the fact of events available had left the ordinary man with no option than to be afraid.
As God’s Servant, I bring you good news: “Fear not. Be not afraid” — a Deliverer, a Rescuer, One who is able to free us from any threat and danger in any situation is born unto us. You shall be taller than your circumstances; you shall have unusual testimony. It is your year of deep laughter; the barren shall give birth to children; you shall walk in unhindered open doors and you shall graduate from favour to highly favoured.
Today’s Nugget: The gospel of good news is a person: Jesus of Nazareth, Who walked on this earth to offer an alternative to humanity devoid of real hope.
Prayer: I declare it is my year of Good News.
• Dr. Chidi Okoroafor, General Superintendent, ASSEMBLIES OF GOD NIGERIA. E-MAIL: email@example.com. Prayer lines: 09078154261.