The angel said to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid. For, behold, I am bringing you good news of great joy, which will be for all the people. Today, in the city of David, a Savior has been born for you. He 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 2:10-12).
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations… (Matthew 28:19a).
One of the many joys of watching young children grow up is witnessing the unbridled enthusiasm they display during the Christmas season. Virtually everything about Christmas seems novel and extraordinary for them. Whereas many adults simply glaze over as we hear the old familiar story of Jesus’ birth, children can hear the same story with an eagerness that must rival what those first shepherds outside Bethlehem experienced. Every single phrase is loaded with potent significance. Every single word signifies an invitation to explore and pursue. For children, as for those once-sleepy shepherds, the Christmas message still sounds like pressing good news.
Strikingly, the angels never commanded the shepherds to go see the child lying in the manger. To be sure, there was an invitation—“this will be a sign for you…”—but there was no coercion. And there didn’t need to be. The angels proclaimed the gospel (the “good news of great joy”) and pointed the shepherds to the newborn King. Given the personal nature of such earth-shattering news—“a Savior has been born for you”—the shepherds couldn’t help but check it out!
When the Lord Jesus gave the Great Commission he tied the instructions unambiguously to the gospel message—“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me…” This means that when we seek to “make disciples” we do so by His authority and by His power. Like the angels who preached to the shepherds we keep the gospel message central, and we do whatever we can to plant seeds of faith. Yet at the end of the day we must confess, “God gives the growth” (1 Cor. 3:7). Consequently, our church’s vision statement reflects our prayer that God would add growth to our efforts to proclaim the good news: “Tabernacle is a church family in which Christian disciples of all ages are made, molded and commissioned (Consistent with Matthew 28:18-20).”
Mindfulness of our limitations, however, shouldn’t hinder our desire to hear the gospel message with fresh, childlike ears. Neither should it prevent us from announcing the gospel with bold and winsome conviction. May the Lord use Christmas 2016 to infuse us all with a renewed passion for the Good News. And may you and your family have a Merry Christmas!