Do Not Be Afraid: Spread the Message

Unexpected Joy

The angel said to 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

The shepherds weren’t expecting a message from God. They were going about their normal routine—caring for sheep—a dangerous, often thankless job. No Jewish mother dreamed of her sons becoming shepherds. They stood on the lowest rung of the economic ladder, and their nomadic, ceremonially unclean lifestyle was unsuitable for devout adherence to the Mosaic law.

But God chose to bring the message of the Savior’s birth to a group of shepherds living out in the fields near the village of Bethlehem. This news brought joy for everyone—especially shepherds. The Savior had not been sent to hang out with the rich, the powerful, and the famous. In fact, he spent most of his time among the impoverished, the marginalized, and the ignored.

And that’s joyous news for all of us. Why? In one way or another, each of us is more like a lowly shepherd than a powerful king. Each of us is in desperate need of a Savior who can lead us out of our sin-stained existence into the abundant life he offers (John 10:10).

What I love about the Bethlehem shepherds is that they didn’t spend the next four hours (or days) wondering why God had chosen them to share the message or discussing how to carry out the assignment. They “hurried off” to see what had happened and then “spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child” (Luke 2:16–17).

Your year may have been more draining or more devastating than you ever imagined. You may feel marginalized or ignored. But here’s the news that should fill your heart with joy and gratitude: God designed the message of Christmas for people just like you and me.

Whatever our circumstances this Christmas, let’s follow the example of the shepherds. Let’s invest our effort in spreading the joyous message of the angels: a Savior has been born, and he offers salvation to everyone.

Be prepared for the unexpected joy that will follow.

Dig Deeper

Read Luke 2:1–20 in a modern Bible paraphrase such as the New Living Translation or The Message. What new insights does this version provide on the familiar account of Jesus’s birth?

Read Matthew 25:31–46 and James 1:27. What do these passages indicate about how we can demonstrate our love for Jesus? How do you reach out to the groups of people mentioned in these verses?

Read 2 Corinthians 8:1–5. What effect did the “most severe trial” have on the Macedonians’ perspective and actions? What effect has the COVID-19 pandemic had on your perspective and actions?

You may also want to read two other devotions about the Bethlehem shepherds: While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks and How Great Our Joy.

Denise K. Loock

This devotion is part of our Do Not Be Afraid series.

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