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Good News For All

God here arrives on a mission of mercy, with good news of great joy. And what makes the arrival of the Lord Jesus good news is not only that He arrives as king, but that He also arrives as Savior. Instead of coming in just judgment, God comes to mercifully secure the salvation of all the subjects of His kingdom.
 

This time of year, we will hear beautiful lyrics such as “Hark! The herald angels sing, glory to the newborn king”, or “Joy to the world, the Lord is come, let earth receive her king.” What we celebrate at Christmas is the arrival of a king; God the eternal Son becoming incarnate, taking on human flesh, to redeem us and take His rightful place of dominion and authority over all creation. 

The birth of this king came with a heavenly processional of angels, carrying a message from Almighty God, recorded in Luke 2:9-11: “And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

The announcement of a king would not have been earth-shattering news at that time; an expectation of a king had been building over the centuries among the people of Israel, harkening all the way back to God’s covenant with Abraham, promising him a line of kings in Genesis 17:6 (Mary herself makes this connection in her song of praise found in Luke 1:55). This expectation began to take a more definitive shape when God promised King David a descendant who would reign forever over an everlasting kingdom (2 Sam. 7:12-13). Prophecies regarding the reign of the Lord’s anointed such as are found in Psalm 2 and Daniel 7 continue this thread of expectation in Israel; however, the common understanding of this kingdom was that it would be exclusively for Israel. 

The idea was that this promised king would bring the judgment of God upon Gentile nations, re-establish Israel to its former glory, and continue to reign over the people forever. This attitude is demonstrated by Jesus’ apostles when they asked the risen Lord, moments before His ascension, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). They believed that these promises, this kingdom, was for the nation of Israel, the physical descendants of Abraham; yet the things that the all-wise God had planned were greater than any first century Jew could imagine.

The striking thing about the angel’s proclamation are the two words “all people.” The heralding of this promised Lord was not limited to the citizens of Israel; rather, this news was for everyone. We see indications of this grand scope after the birth of Jesus, when the Magi travel from the east to pay homage to this newborn king. In fact, embedded in the very teaching of Jesus is that it was never the purpose of God to limit this kingdom to one race of people, but instead, the kingdom begins as a tiny mustard seed, from which grows a tree that covers the entire garden (Mt. 13:31-32). 

God’s purpose was to work through the tiny, seemingly insignificant nation of Israel to bring His anointed king into the world, and from that expand His rule and dominion over the face of the earth. The incarnation was not merely the arrival of the King of the Jews, but the King over all, with subjects from every tribe, tongue, and nation, whose rule knows no borders.

The angels also affirm this birth to be something good, something joyous. This too is an unexpected turn in God’s history of redemption; much is made in the Old Testament of God’s coming judgment on the nations (Joel 2:11). However, God here arrives on a mission of mercy, with good news of great joy. And what makes the arrival of the Lord Jesus good news is not only that He arrives as king, but that He also arrives as Savior. Instead of coming in just judgment, God comes to mercifully secure the salvation of all the subjects of His kingdom: “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (Jn. 3:17-18). 

The flip side of the joyous news that this Savior is for all the people is the sobering reality that all people need a savior. As John 3 teaches us, man is sitting under condemnation, and as Paul labors in Romans, all people—Jew and Gentile alike—“have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23). 

The joy of the incarnation is that God sent His only Son to deal with the sin of not only Israel, but of the whole world. And he came to establish His kingdom, not within the land of Palestine, but over all the heavens and the earth. By taking on human flesh, living sinlessly as a man, dying for our sins as a man, and being raised up in glory, Jesus secured the gracious salvation of all His people. And this remains the good news that we preach to this very day, the good news that we celebrate at Christmas, the good news of the long awaited arrival our King and Savior.
 
Luke Griffo is a member of leadership at Redeemer Church of South Hills in West Mifflin, PA. Click here for more RCSH Blog posts.
 
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