Advent Devotional: New Year’s Day

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With The Oxen Standing By

January 1, 2020

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night…. 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.”—Luke 2:8, 10-11 (see Luke 2:8-16)

The first people to hear the Good News of Christ’s birth were shepherds. First came the angel’s announcement of a joyful birth. Second came the identification of the baby. Who was this child? 

He was the son of David—an essential fact alluded to when the birthplace was identified as “the city of David,” meaning Bethlehem. This is the sixth time that Luke has mentioned David’s name. The child born to the shepherds was David’s royal son.

The child was also the Savior. This is another special title in the book of Luke, which uses the language of salvation more than any other Gospel. A Savior is a deliverer—someone who rescues people from death and destruction.

Jesus was also the Christ. Eventually this became part of the Savior’s name, but it is really a title. “Christ” is the Greek term for Messiah—literally, “the anointed one,” calling to mind the kings and priests of the Old Testament who were anointed with oil as a sign of their office and mission.

The last title the angel gave to Jesus was Lord. This term of honor points to his deity, and to his sovereign rule over our lives. This is the first time that Luke brings together the words “Christ” and “Lord.” It is an unprecedented combination: Jesus is the Lord Christ. This means that the promised and anointed Savior was none other than God himself, appearing in the flesh.

The lowly shepherds never would have known this Good News if the angel had not appeared to them. This shows how much we need the preaching of the gospel. To understand what God has done, we need to have someone explain it to us. This is how God saves us: not simply by sending Jesus to be our Savior, but also by preaching us the gospel so that we can believe in his saving work.

Reflective Question

Why do you suppose God chose the shepherds to be the first to hear of Christ’s birth?

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