Good is not necessarily the adjective that you or I (or anyone) would use to describe the local, national or world news. It is, however, the adjective that describes the message about the incarnation of God.
The way this news broke into our world was not through a red banner at the bottom of a screen, but rather through the voice of an angel. The audience of this news was not the masses, but instead a small group of weathered shepherds who lived out in the fields. They were neither social influencers, nor reputable evangelists. One could assume they were “out of the loop.” Yet God decided that they would be the first group of people to be “in the loop” of the best news in world history.
The angel announced to the shepherds at night as the glory of the Lord shone around them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:10–11).
God is the creator of the news, the news source, and He told his news crew, “When you announce the news to the shepherds, call it ‘good news.’” And they did! As you know, God declared “good” over His creation (Genesis 1). God is the creator of the good earth, but sin devastated it, and He is also the producer of the good news that will redeem his sin-torn creation. Whatever God does, it is good!
While “good” tells about the news, “great joy” takes us deeper. It is news of “great joy” because the Savior born to you will bring you joy, but it is also news of “great joy” because the good news is originated from the creativity and love of a joyful God! I believe “great joy” tells us more about the source of the news than the news itself. Just look at Colossians 1:19–20, “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things…”
God is pleased and full of joy to send His Son into the world. He loved His creation so much, that He gave. Now, who of you love to give good gifts to your children? How much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to you? Who said that? Why would Jesus say that (Matthew 7:11, Luke 11:13)?
Because Jesus knows His presence in the flesh and the good news of the kingdom is from not just a good Father, not only a loving Father, but a joyful Father. God was so joyful about what He had done that the angels couldn’t just say, “I bring you good news for all the people.” They had to describe the personality of the person who gives it.
“Good” describes the nature of the news, “great joy” explains the origin of the news, and “for all the people” expresses the broad audience that will not only hear the news, but also have the ability to receive it.
But consider a tragic thought just for a second. What if the news wasn’t for all the people? Would it still be good news? No, it would just be good news for those designated.
For instance, what if I said, “Good news! Free Bazbeaux pizza … except you. No pizza for you”? (Check out Bazbeaux next time you are in Indianapolis; you’ll see.) What a bummer for you! It wouldn’t be truly good news.
“Good news! There is forgiveness of sins available … but not for you.” You get the point. Good news for some isn’t truly good news. It’s just “good for them” or “good for us.” Good news that isn’t for all people divides and separates and creates barriers. (Read what Jesus does in Ephesians 2:13–22.)
Praise God that the good news of great joy is for all people! Christ came for everyone, especially for people who live in rebellion to Christ today. All may find forgiveness of sins in Christ. All may be reconciled to God and others in Christ. Perhaps this good news of great joy for all people is the only hope for unity in our world. Other than the gospel, is there anything that is truly good news for all people, from generation to generation, from culture to culture?
So tell me the news already! “A Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” What a strange phrase – “born to you.” When my wife and I had our first son, we showed him to our family and friends. No one said, “I’m so glad your son was born to me.” I didn’t go around holding my baby saying, “This is my son. He’s born to you.”
No! That’d be weird. No one does that. Liam was born to Brianna and me. He is ours, we get to care for him, we get to raise him, we are responsible for him, and we receive the most joy because he was born to us.
But God gives a message unlike any other. “A Savior has been born to you.” Christ is ours, we don’t get to care for Him as a baby, but He cares for us. We don’t get to raise Him, but He teaches us and helps us mature. We are not responsible for His actions, but His actions enable us to become responsive to God’s grace. And best of all, because Christ is born to us, we get to receive Him, believe in His name, and we are given the right to become children of God.
Christ born to us provides the way for us to be born of God. In other words, we get to be part of God’s family and participate in His never-ending life of joy. Soon, we will get to live with the source of good news, the joyful God!
Do not be afraid. Go and share the good news of great joy for all people.
John-David VanValin is the lead pastor of First Free Methodist Church in Indianapolis. He is a graduate of Spring Arbor University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and Asbury Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree.1