So the Angel told the shepherds to “fear not.” He then prepared them for the announcement that was going to follow by calling it good news. When someone says “I have good news,” I think it gets us ready for something really positive. Many 18 hallelujatimes we might be let down by what others consider good news, but the Angel wanted the shepherds to know that wasn’t going to happen with this announcement. In Luke 2:11 the Angel described how the good news would affect everyone who “got it.” He said, “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.”

The coming of the savior of the world was announced as something that would bring “great joy.” Not just joy, but “Great” joy! So as we read on in Luke chapter 2 the shepherds pack up what they need to pack up, lock up the sheep, and head out on a several mile journey to Bethlehem to see this marvelous thing. Spurgeon tells about man who walked seven hundred miles to see the Niagara Falls. As he drew near he heard the roar of the waterfall and asked a man working a field, ‘Is that the roar of Niagara?’ The man said, ‘I don’t know, but I guess it may be. I’ve never seen it.’” Spurgeon goes on to say, “No doubt there are many within hail of heaven’s choicest joys who have never cared to know them. They hope they are saved, but they don’t care for great joy. They dig their potatoes. They use their spade and their hoe; but the Niagara is nought to them. Many look well to this life, but do not arouse themselves to gain present spiritual joy.”

I can remember thinking as a boy that had I been there with the shepherds I would have gone with them. Yet as I grew up I became more interested in digging potatoes. It all felt so far removed from my daily life, I couldn’t grasp the “great joy” it was intended to bring to me. It was only after coming to faith in Jesus later in life and having read the Gospels through that it sunk in. Luke began his pronouncement of Christ’s birth by the telling us that it would be “good news that would bring great joy.” Yet throughout the rest of Luke’s Gospel we find those all along the way too busy digging potatoes to want to know about it. The disciples had their own problems grasping it also. But upon Christ’s ascension they finally got it. That’s why they proclaim it all to us. It’s interesting to me that Luke begins with the pronouncement of the birth of a baby who will bring “great joy” to all the people. Then at the end of the Gospel in Luke 24:52, Luke tells us what impact Jesus’ life had on them. After Jesus left them, and us, on earth and ascended into heaven to prepare a place for us, Luke says that His disciples, “…returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.” We either dig potatoes or praise God with great joy!