Good News Of Joy
Every year the lush of the poinsettia plants with their blooms in hues and their sparkling and irresistible colors shoot out like a time clock announcing the soon arrival of the Christmas season. Look, doesn’t the traditional red, which dominates over other color choices cheers our hearts and spirit to get ready for the festive Christmas season and activities.
Without a doubt, even in nature there is a call to humanity to pause, bloom, and make a difference, impacting the lives of others in a positive way. And clearly, admiring the lives of others in a positive way. And clearly admiring the beauty of the various poinsettias that bloom in hues, including the traditional red; white; pink; orange; yellow; green—all can be therapeutic to the on looker. Sharing moments of selflessness and gratitude; merry making activities around the house, visiting with families and friends, including, sharing with the marginalized of our society.
Yes, the poinsettias in their bloom call to a bigger picture of humanity—call attention to hope beyond despairs; life beyond death, hope, joy, peace, love and happiness shared and experienced; held with the belief that everyone can bloom amidst conflicting, social, political, and religious forces; amidst the rise of so many hate groups; immigrant bashing; fear dominating the hearts of people from far and near; including domestic terrorism and much more.
Furthermore, the present high-tech global outreach indeed dislocates groups and individuals, creating an atmosphere of uneasiness or even of anxiety. Unsettled by the insecurity of such an age, men and women search for certainty—a common destiny, and for a sense of belonging. But in an age of bad news, conflicting social, political and religious forces, there were witnesses whose time had come. There were witnesses who were compelled to bring good news to depressed humanity as expressed in the Gospels of Matthew (Matthew 1: 18 – 25 – 2:23) and Luke (2: 1 – 51).
Matthew and Luke were witnesses of good news. In their account, they show an angel delivering good news (Matthew 2: 1 – 25; Luke 2:10-11): “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
We must note that in Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus, the testimonies of the angel and the shepherds did not occur in a vacuum (Luke 2:8-11). Luke spoke to human’s needs. As God’s witness, the angel declared good news to Jews and Gentiles, to men and women, boys and girls alike.
For example, a brief look into the immediate context of Luke’s “good news of great joy” (Luke 2:1-9) reveals that it is given within a setting in world history by the reference to the census, which brought Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem. The birth of a child was an occasion of great joy, especially if the child was a boy. When the time of the birth was near at hand, friends and local musicians gathered near the house. When the birth was announced if it were a boy, the musicians broke into music and song, and there was universal congratulations and rejoicing. If it were a girl the musicians went silently and regretfully away. There was a saying, “the birth of a male child causes universal joy, but the birth of a female child causes universal sorrow.”
However, Jesus was born in a stable in Bethlehem and therefore the traditional ceremony could not have been carried out. The angels sang the songs for Jesus that was impossible for earthly singers to sing. In this connection it appears that Luke plays down the apparent attitude towards women and girls, and the outcasts of society of his time.
He shows how Jesus uplifts the human dignity of all people and announces good news of joy concerning the man for all nations and the ages. “Was that a mighty day when Jesus Christ was born?” Angels came from heaven, when Jesus was born, giving glory to the king.
In Luke’s view, God’s glory is revealed in the coming of His Son who brings a new situation of peace between God and men in which His blessings can be communicated to them. Peace is here closely related to salvation and is made available to everyone who accepts Jesus, the Son of God. He is our hope.
In summary, Luke presents Jesus’ birth as good news, the hope of the world, the only source for peace in this festive season. Luke speaks to the human’s heart and needs.
Luke, within his Gentile Christian setting, assures his hearers that by virtue of God’s gift to humanity through His Son, Gentiles have become the people of God. They have something to live for. This to him was good news of an event that signals great joy.
Furthermore, we have noticed that for Luke the birth of Jesus touches all people—the economically and socially deprived, the broken hearted, the captives, the oppressed and the lowly—the blind see and the lame walk, lepers are cleaned and deaf hear, the dead are raised and the Gospel preached to the poor. Evidently, the birth of Jesus brings a new situation of peace between God and humanity in which His blessings can be communicated.
While the good news was a source of joy, peace, and healing to many, it was also an occasion for hostility and antagonism. Herod and all Jerusalem were troubled with the announcement of Jesus’ birth. We have the account of Herod’s plot to kill Jesus and his massive crimes, which resulted in the slaughter of the innocents.
Luke shows that Jesus sought an entry into the overcrowded hearts of men and women. He could not find it, and still His search and rejection to go on. However, over against the attitude of hostility, there was the attitude of acceptance and commitment. The wise men and the shepherds exhibited the right attitude towards Jesus and spread the good news of His birth.
By so doing, they have received the radical demands of the good news of great joy and have entered into personal relationship, and personal union with Jesus. They were then committed to serve all people and make the world a better place for all.
Clearly, in these festive Christmas seasons, when fear and feelings of hopelessness are dominating the age, the message of Jesus is good news; He brings joy, hope, happiness and salvation to all—spread the good news in all your gatherings and festivities.
Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!