Bible Society of South Africa

Good news for all people – 17 December 2020

By Hennie Symington

Bible text(s)

The Preaching of John the Baptist

1This is the Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

The Shepherds and the Angels

8There were some shepherds in that part of the country who were spending the night in the fields, taking care of their flocks.

Mark says nothing about the birth of Christ as he begins his story with the baptism of Jesus. Luke however puts us in the picture with descriptions which have become the stuff that nativity plays are made of including the old priest Zechariah foretelling the birth of a man with the “spirit and power of Elijah”, the lowly shepherds in the field, a star, a host of angels, and of course the wise men on their camels.

Who was Luke, the author of the third gospel? Possibly a doctor travelling with Paul and the only non-Jewish author whose writings from around 50 or 60 years after Christ ascended to heaven, are included in the New Testament.

The upshot of Luke’s version of Christ’s birth is that he was born in a barn, which makes us wonder why God would allow his Son to be born in such lowly circumstances (after all, Jerusalem was just 12 km away)? Perhaps this was a way to place this event in a historical framework – the census ordered by Caesar Augustus.

Why were the shepherds the only invited guests to witness the birth? It really doesn’t make any sense unless this high born child truly was a man of the people, the one who would come for all – rich and poor, for nations and people of all walks of society.

What does that mean to us living so many centuries after these amazing occurrences? Luke tells us, in the years to come, Christ would make this promise to the common, ordinary people: “For all those who exalt themselves, will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Luke 14:11).

Prayer: Lord, your message came to us in the simplest language for all to understand, yet is so profound that more than two millennia afterwards we are still in awe of the “greatest story” ever told. Amen

Bible Society of South Africav.4.18.9
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