For many years (from 1976 until his death in 2009), Paul Harvey hosted a popular radio series in which he told a story about a newsworthy person, place, or event. After giving an introduction that piqued our curiosity, he paused for a commercial and then returned to the program with the famous words, “And now, the rest of the story.”
In my most recent words of encouragement (December 4, 2019), I wrote about giving our hearts to Jesus and preparing Him room there as we approach Christmas, and I quoted from Luke 2:1–7 (NKJV), which concludes with these words: “[Mary] brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
Today, I would like to share with you, in the words of Paul Harvey, the rest of the story.
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem more than two thousand years ago, the overwhelming majority of the earth’s population was uninterested in the Baby or His mother or His mission. However, to the angels in heaven, the event was a once-in-eternity miracle:
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them. (Luke 2:8–20, NKJV)
The birth of the Savior of the world was momentous in and of itself, but the events of that first Christmas also reveal three important lessons for today.
First, when God wants to give you a message, nothing can stop Him. Ordinary methods are fine, but, when necessary, he will use His angels or other supernatural means. Worried that God has forgotten you or that He cannot reach you? Fear not! God is God, and His plans are perfect.
Second, God has “good tidings of great joy” for you, and they encompass all of salvation history. The Word of God (the Holy Bible) exists to tell you how much God loves you and how far He has gone – and will go – to save you. The birth of Jesus was an important point on the pathway to your heart, but the road also includes His death and resurrection, His ascension, and His promise that He will return for you one day. Good news? Actually, it is the greatest news of all time, and it is cause for joy and celebration.
Third, when you encounter the Son of God, when He comes to you and changes your heart and your life forever, you will want to respond by praising and glorifying God and telling others about Him. Keep it to yourself? No way. Salvation is meant to be shared – and so is the life-transforming story of Jesus Christ.
During these final days before Christmas, prepare to receive God’s love. Prepare to receive His joy. Prepare to receive His Son.
-- Dr. John Morris