By Tyler McKenzie
It’s AD 14, Jesus will be 20 soon, and Caesar Augustus, the emperor of four decades who was worshipped as divine for establishing a time of unprecedented peace, is dead.
Leader shifts leave governments vulnerable, so as the news spread, Rome holds its collective breath. Uncertainty abounds. Will a tyrant claim his throne? Will Pax Romana continue? What future does change hold? But into the towns Tiberius’s heralds promptly march with a proclamation of great joy, “I bring good news! Tiberius is now Caesar, our savior and lord!”
An adolescent Jesus probably heard this announcement, and I wonder if it sounded familiar? Luke 2:10, 11: “Do not be afraid!” the angel said to the shepherds. “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.”
The word used for “good news” in both contexts is the same root word Christians use for “gospel.” It was a technical term used to announce a new king, and the shepherds couldn’t contain their excitement (vv. 17-20)—the king had arrived!
How do you respond to good news? when your spouse bursts through the door singing, “I have good news honey!” or when your doctor grins or boss calls you in and says, “I have good news . . .”? your first thought is—what?
I know what you don’t think. You don’t think, “Oh no, I’m in trouble!” or “What’s it going to cost me?” No! When someone has good news you know, “Here comes something awesome. This will make life better.” Good news is, “I got the promotion!” “You’re cancer free!” “The exam is cancelled!”
Give Glory to God
Is the gospel good news to you? Can it even be gospel if it isn’t?
If it’s a demand not a gift, if it delivers guilt not grace, then it isn’t good news. If it’s a never-ending rulebook that leaves a nagging lack of assurance, it isn’t good news. If it isn’t responded to, celebrated, and shared it must not be that good of news.
But the gospel is good news. It’s a costly yet free gift that won’t be cheapened by disregard, manipulation, or earning—it will only be responded to. This Christmas, respond and give glory to God.
Tyler McKenzie is the Teaching minister at Northeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, and blogger at CrossShapedStuff.com. He lives in Louisville with his wife, Lindsay.
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