Luke 2: 4 – 11 (NIV): 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
The people in this story are celebrities today, but not at the time. They were witness to the most joyful event in history, but it wasn't easy. Mary had the privilege of holding the infant Jesus in her arms. Think of the joy he brought. But she had to suffer through the pains of childbirth to receive that joy. Often the suffering we experience today is preparing us for a future blessing. And she would not have been chosen as the mother of the Christ if she had not been righteous. May we never forget that God seeks clean vessels to use for his most blessed purposes.
Joseph also received the joyful gift, but only after showing tremendous faith. He believed the angel's report about Mary and her miraculous pregnancy. It is impossible to receive God's full blessings if we do not trust and obey him. Joseph is a great example of that.
The shepherds received the joy of seeing Jesus, but only after being terribly afraid. Often we are frightened when God intervenes in our lives, but God always brings good news and great joy. The shepherds were the first to hear the good news, yet they were in such a low class of society, they were not allowed in the temple. God's good news is for all people.
This passage ends with the people of Bethlehem hearing the good news and being amazed. Yes, they received the joy too, but only because the shepherds told them what happened. The only way our community is going to hear the good news is if we share it.