How would you feel when going through tough and difficult circumstances, someone rushes to you exclaiming, ‘I have good news for you!’ Skeptical, wary, excited? I could understand if the first two responses are evident. It would take some more information for one to become excited when the circumstances are not favourable.
This was the state of the nation of Israel at the time if Jesus' birth which was put at about 4. BC. It was not the best of time for the Jews who were currently subject to the Roman Empire under Caesar Augustus. As if that were not bad enough, they were being ruled at this time by the tyrannical king, Herod who was made king by the Romans. He was a stern and wicked ruler who had no problem killing anyone who posed a threat to his throne even members of his own family. The Jews lived in subjection and fear under this foreigner who was made ruler over them.
It was at this time that some shepherds while minding their own business in the fields tending their ship, witnessed a strange sight. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared to them amidst heavenly floodlights. Of course their first response, which would be our response today as well, was fright. However, the angel assured them calmly that there was nothing to fear because what he brought was good news, not only for them but for the entire world. A child had been born and the purpose of that child was to rescue man from the tyranny of the devil.
Let us examine the responses of a number of people to the coming of the baby king. The first were the shepherds. ‘When they saw the star, they were overjoyed’ (Matthew 2:10). These men weren’t just happy, they were ecstatic! It meant so much to them that God chose to reveal this news to mere shepherds rather than the astrologers and religious leaders of their time.
Herod: Being the kind of king that he was, one would not be surprised that he became disturbed when he heard the news. (Matt 2:3) Why was he worried? He knew that his kingdom was at an end. He had made careful enquiries and found out that indeed there was a prophecy about a child who will be born to become the king of the Jews. He could not let this happen. The solution was to eliminate the child before he grew up to become an opposition to his throne.
Jerusalem: One would have expected the Jews to be happy and ecstatic like the shepherds but on the contrary, they were as troubled as Herod himself. The shepherds, who were foreigners, believed but the Jews because of their unbelief saw the birth of this child as doom for them rather than liberation. Although they were under Roman rule and resented this, it was better for them to live in peace under subjection than to rebel and suffer the consequence. Such was their myopic and foolish thinking.
Simeon the Priest: He had been informed through prophecy that he would not die till he see the consolation of Israel. He obviously lived up to a very old age, waiting for the time this event would happen. When Jesus’ parents brought the baby to the temple for dedication, Simeon was already waiting, having been prompted by the Holy Spirit. He died a very fulfilled and happy man.
So much is happening in our world today and the news is full of all kinds of evil reports too many to follow. However, we have good news that can never be tainted.
‘For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this’ (Isaiah 9:6 - 7)
One lesson we can learn from the birth of our Saviour is that no matter what you may have been going through this year, be rest assured that God never disappoints. If He has promised, He will do what He says. You however have to be ready for His response so that you will not reject it when it comes, just like the Jews did.
‘For nothing is impossible with God’ (Luke 1:37)
Steve O. Popoola
© Biblepraise Fellowship Online, December 2009.
Steve Popoola is the editor of Biblepraise Newsletter and the webmaster of Biblepraise Fellowship Online at http://www.biblepraise.org . British by birth, He currently resides in Lagos , Nigeria with wife Maris and their children; Praise, Stephanie and Precious. He works as an IT professional in a bank. He presently serves as Church Secretary and Head of Music Ministry in his local church. He is the Moderator/Editor of Biblepraise Newsletter. He can be reached through His email address, firstname.lastname@example.org