Tiding of Great Joy
December 26, 2022
Luke 2:10 "Then the angels said to them, "Do not be afraid for behold, I bring you tidings of great joy which will be to all people." ~Luke 2:10
The shepherds’ lives were ironic. Their job was to care for the animals that would be sacrificed to atone for the sins of the people. Yet because of their handling of these dirty creatures, they themselves were unclean so that prevented them from keeping the ceremonial law. And because they were ceremonially unclean, they were often regarded as untrustworthy, dirty, and had a bad reputation.
However, it was also expected that a good shepherd would be willing to lay down his life for his sheep. A good shepherd was someone who cared deeply for the lambs under his watch, many of which were appointed to die on the altar of the Lord for the sins of the very people who looked down on the shepherds.
In Ancient Israel, mangers were made of stone, and they were used mainly as feeding troughs but also for protection for those unblemished newborn lambs. They were wrapped tightly in cloths and laid in the manger to be kept safe until they were used in sacrifice for sins in the temple.
Bethlehem was famous for these perfect lambs. Wow! Doesn’t that make this passage in Luke 2 even more significant! The angels came to the SHEPHERDS in BETHLEHEM - the only time mangers were mentioned – the shepherds would immediately understand the parallel! This baby would be the perfect Lamb of God - the Messiah who would sacrifice His life for the sins of the whole world. He wasn't just a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger, He was GOD; perfect, sinless and Holy, humbling Himself to become the perfect sacrifice to reconcile us back to Himself.
"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” ~Luke 2:11-12
This holy night wasn't silent, it was full of rejoicing and song and praise! How ironic that the same men who were outcasts from Jewish society, were trusted to protect the unblemished lambs destined for the temple. God was breaking down that stereotype – can you even imagine! The message longed for by all - they were the first to hear! What joy!