December 24, 2017 Evening Worship Luke 1-2
“Fantastic, Wonderful and Great News!”
Pastor Louis Prontnicki Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church
Think about a time in your life when you responded to some news by saying “That terrific! That’s fantastic! That’s wonderful! That’s such good news! I am so happy to hear that!” It might be the good news of a pregnancy, of an engagement, or a birth. All of these things are wonderful, fantastic, and great news – and we love to hear them, and then we love to tell others about them, right? When it comes to good news, two things are always true: we love to hear it and we love to tell others about it.
My friends, I would suggest to you that the story of Christmas – the news of God’s Son becoming a man, even a helpless baby – in order to become the Savior of the world – is certainly the most wonderful, fantastic and glorious news that was ever heard, that was ever announced!
Allow me to take you on a quick but joyous tour of some of the ordinary people who heard the wonderful, fantastic news of what we call Christmas, in Luke chapters one and two.
First the angel Gabriel tells the wonderful, fantastic, and great news to an elderly couple who were childless and who had almost given up all hope of ever having a child. The angle proclaims: “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.”(1:19) And this good news was not merely that Zechariah and his barren wife Elizabeth were going to have a baby, but that in addition, this son would be great, and that he would prepare the way for the Lord’s Messiah! (1:5-25) What wonderful and good news to people in despair and hopelessness!
Then the same angel appears to Mary, a lowly young woman who is engaged to be married, but who has remained a virgin. Gabriel appears to her and tells her the wonderful, fantastic, and great news that she has been chosen by God to carry and then to give birth to the incarnate Son of God! Then Gabriel goes on to announce that her Son will be the fulfillment of all the Divine promises that were made to Abraham. Moses, and David! (1:26-38). Can you imagine the double joy here in this news? Not only is the long-awaited Messiah finally coming to set His people free, but Mary is going to be his earthly mother, through a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit!
This is Good News to those who were lost in sin and darkness, and now the Light of the World was breaking through to free them and rescue them!
And look at how good God is here to Mary: she is bursting to tell someone this wonderful, fantastic, and great news, right? But who can she tell? Who’s going to believe her? Ah, the angel just happens to mention that Mary’s relative Elizabeth is also pregnant – another miracle! – and Mary goes to her house, and for three months these two women talk about the wonderful, fantastic, and great news which the angel had announced to both of them!
Next, another angel appears to some shepherds who are working the night shift with their sheep, out in a field, (2:8ff) and in a visual that befits the audio message, we read that “The glory of the Lord shone around them – and they were terrified!” (Wouldn’t you be?) Listen to what the angel announces to these startled and terrified shepherds: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy – The Eagles will finally win the Super Bowl this year, even without Carson Wentz – (Just wanted to see if you were paying attention!) – great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
And if that news wasn’t enough to knock your sock off, all of a sudden a heavenly choir appears in the sky, praising God, proclaiming “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” And how do the shepherds respond to this news, this cosmic celebration? They believe this fantastic news and immediately they go see for themselves this child who is the Savior and Lord of the world. Wouldn’t you?
Lastly, we are told about two people who had waited a long, long time to hear this wonderful, fantastic, and great news about the Messiah, the Lord’s Anointed One, the Christ. The first person was the righteous man Simeon, who was waiting for “the consolation of Israel” and had been promised by God the Holy Spirit that before he died, he would see the Lord’s Anointed One, the Messiah (2:25ff.)…and he did! Talk about crossing things off your “bucket list!”
The other person was the elderly prophetess, Anna. (2:36-38). She never left the temple, day or night, but devoted herself to worship, fasting and prayer, and she had the rich privilege of seeing the Christ child, and then the joy of telling others about this wonderful, fantastic, and great news!
I want you to think about how these different people responded to the Great News they heard:
Zechariah heard this wonderful, fantastic, and great news, but because of his unbelief, he was unable to speak a word about it to others, for 9 months (1:20).
Mary heard this wonderful, fantastic, and great news, and because she did believe, that with God, nothing is impossible, therefore she spoke forth a magnificent song of praise to God, known today as The Magnificat (1:46-55)
The shepherds, having heard this wonderful, fantastic, and great news, and having seen the Christ child for themselves, “Spread the word concerning what they had been told about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherd said to them.” (2:17-18)
And Simeon, having been given the great privilege of seeing the long awaited Messiah, praised God concerning this wonderful, fantastic, and great news!
What about you? I have two questions for you: (1) Have you heard the Good News of Christmas, and (2) have you been telling others about it?
First, have you received the wonderful, fantastic good news about God the Son becoming a baby, so that He could rescue you from sin, Satan, and darkness? Have you responded to the great news about the coming of the Christ child, the birth of the Son of God, the Savior of the world? It is not enough to simply know this fact of history. God’s Word tells us that to all who received Him, to those who believed/ trusted in His Name, God gave the right to become children of God, to be born a second birth, of God’s Spirit. (John 1:12-13). Have you?
Second, have you been telling others about this wonderful, fantastic, and great news?
Mary couldn’t keep it to herself. The Shepherds couldn’t keep quiet. Simeon and Anna had to tell everyone they saw. Why? Because if God’s Good News really lives in your heart, then your mouth will just have to speak of it!
So I encourage you: Receive this Good news… believe it… trust it… savor it… mediate on it… delight in it. Spread the news, this wonderful, fantastic, and great news; go, tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is born… and those who believe in Him can be born again!