Friday, December 11, 2015

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Henry Ossawa Tanner - Angels Appearing before the Shepherds

2000 years ago, some shepherds heard a message. 

Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. (Luke 2:10-12)

The lowly shepherds believed it was good news and did what the angels told them, finding the baby savior and then sharing what they knew. 

Not long after, a king heard the same news, but his response was very different.  When the mighty Herod the Great learned that the Messiah had been born, instead of rejoicing for the Savior, he felt threatened by the idea of another king of the Jews.” He didn’t worship the newly incarnated son of God; he tried to have him murdered(Matthew 2:12-18) .

Fast forward about 30 years.  The baby Savior is now grown to a man, and news about him has spread all over the land.  He is best known as a teacher, and his lessons are about the coming kingdom of God. Remarkably, the responses to his message haven’t changed a lot.  Some choose to come and see what he’s all about, become his disciples and then tell others. Fishermen, tax collectors, prostitutes, Zealots, prominent women, soldiers, even a few religious leaders.  They are a diverse crowd, but they all have one thing in common.  They knew their need for a Savior, and they heard his message for hope.  One and all, the lowly ones knew they couldn’t be good enough for God and reached for the man who told them they didn’t have to be. 

The priests, scribes and Pharisees heard the same message, but like Herod, they felt threatened.  Jesus turned over tables in the temple, spoke of the temple being destroyed, and called them all a brood of vipers.  He pointed out their hypocrisy and implied in parable after parable that the lowly ones following him were greater than they (Luke 18:9-14, Matthew 21:28-41, Luke 14:16-24).  When he told them that it is the sick who need the doctor, they were tragically unaware of how ill they were.  So with the help of the Romans, they did what Herod was unable to do and murdered Jesus.  Of course, they were only able to do so because Jesus sacrificed himself in order to save all who would follow him. 

That’s the good news we have today, the message that you and I can respond to. 

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)

Today, Jesus’s message is the same.  He brings us good news of great joy about a kingdom that he wants us to be a part of.   We have the same choice that Herod and the shepherds, the disciples and the religious leaders had.  We can hear his message of good news and come to him humbly, knowing how much we need a Savior.  Or we can feel threatened, knowing that we have to give up self and sin to follow him, and reject him and his message.

So my question to you in this Christmas season is simple: Do you hear what I hear?


1 comment:

  1. You have written a good summary of the gospel. Not much has changed in our world since Jesus was on earth--if we follow him we have hope and joy. Enjoy this Christmas season!