“And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” -Luke 2:10-11
This was the heavenly message spoken by the angel to the shepherds outside Bethlehem on the day of Christ’s birth. It begins with the words “fear not” for it does not bring a word of judgment but one of mercy and salvation. It brings the “good news” – that is, the gospel – of “great joy” – for the coming of the Son of God into the world is a glorious event indeed, and cause for rejoicing.
And this good news is not only for Israel but for “all the people”, for Jesus came to redeem both Jew and Gentile. This points back to God’s covenant promise to Abraham – that in him, that is, through his lineage, all the families of the world would be blessed (Gen. 12:3).
The angel continues: “For unto you is born…” This phrase echoes back to the first words of Isaiah’s messianic prophecy: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isa 9:6). This child is not simply born, he is born “to us” as a gift from God.
The angel announces that the child is born in “the city of David” – that is, Bethlehem – as was foretold by the prophet Micah: But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” (Micah 5:2) Jesus is the descendant of King David who fulfills the covenantal promise that God would establish a seed from David’s line to rule his kingdom forever (2 Samuel 7:12-13; 1 Chronicles 17:11-14)
The angel concludes its message by ascribing three titles to the child:
1) Savior: The entire narrative of the Old Testament (after Creation and the Fall) is the unfolding of God’s redemptive plan for humanity. The narrative reaches its climax in Jesus, whose name literally means “The Lord is Salvation”. It is Jesus himself who saves his people from their sins and the wrath of God by dying in their stead.
2) Christ: The Greek translation of the Hebrew word “messiah”, that is, the long awaited redeemer of God’s people who is prophesied about throughout the OT; from the “offspring” of the woman spoken of in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:14-15) to the “messenger of the covenant” whom Malachi wrote of (Mal. 3:1-3).
3) Lord: Jesus is the supreme ruler of all creation; the resurrected and ascended Lord of the universe. The Greek word for “Lord” can simply mean master but is also used interchangeably by the New Testament writers to translate the covenant name of God (Yahweh) and should therefore be considered a title of deity when ascribed to Jesus, who is both fully God and man.
On Christmas we celebrate the advent of our Lord; the eternal Word made flesh. What this means for us most practically and most deeply is that God loves us. Though sinners we be, the very Son of God loved us enough to leave his heavenly glory for a filthy manger and ultimately a bloody cross, so that we may be forgiven, redeemed and remade. This is most certainly good news – the best news in fact, and deserves to be received with the greatest joy.