“An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.’” Luke 2:9-10 (NIV2011)
The kind of joy the shepherds experienced was so contagious it could even bring a smile to Mr. Grinch! The world is full of Grinches that need joy. You may know some. They’ve confused the joy of Christmas with presents, tinsel and lights. But, like the Grinch who tried to steal Christmas from Whoville, when they discover the real joy of Christmas is so much more than gifts and decorations, their lives are transformed. They become infected with a contagious joy. It was the joy that came from the good news the angels shared with the shepherds that first Christmas night.
Terrified at first by the presence of these angelic beings suddenly appearing while they were watching their flocks, the shepherds were the first to hear the good news. The angels said this news was so good that it would cause great joy for all people! What would you have done if you had been one of those lowly shepherds? The whole scene must have caused them to question if it was even real. Shepherds weren’t necessarily all that religious. In fact, they were more your plain, ordinary, garden variety type people. It’s so encouraging to me that God would share the news of His Son’s birth with them as opposed to the High Priests or religious rulers of their day. But God comes to those whose hearts are humble enough to accept Him. There was no spiritual pretense to these shepherds. When they heard the message from the angels they said to each other,
“Let’s go to Bethlehem. Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (Vs. 15)
Wasting no time, Luke tells us that they hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph and the baby just as they had been told. Luke says,
“When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child.” (Vs. 17)
The joy that began that first Christmas night spread through those shepherds. The good news the angels shared with the shepherds caused a pandemic of joy that has spread throughout the world for centuries! It’s available to all who are humble enough to receive it. What is it? Jesus expressed the Good News like this in John 3:17,
“God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him.”
That’s good news! It caused great joy for everyone because we’ve all messed up. We’ve all blown it and deserve punishment for our sins and failures. But God, in His lovingkindness, sent His one and only Son to take that punishment for us and offer us forgiveness instead of judgment! Once you’ve experienced that joy, you will spread it just like the shepherds did. Let your joy be just as contagious as theirs! It may just save another Grinch!