Have you ever been “that person” who listens to a teacher (whether in school, online, or at church); says to yourself, “I should start doing that”; and then never actually does anything? I’ve been there, and it gets worse when I hear the same advice a second time, and realize that I’ve remained stuck in my old ways since the first time I was taught, without doing anything about it!
After the shepherds in Luke 2 are told some amazing news (see Luke 2:8-14), they could have been like me when I don’t act on what I should do. However, they weren’t content to stay put with just plain knowledge. They got up and did something about it!
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.
Luke 2:15-16 NIV
The fact is, the gospel of Jesus Christ isn’t something to just learn academically. Instead, we must do something when we hear it. Hearing about the Savior isn’t the goal; we must take action.
Imagine if a friend told you about a really great restaurant, but you never ate there. Knowing about the restaurant wouldn’t do much good if you never tried its food. The same would be true about a discount (or unclaimed money) that you could receive, if you heard about it but didn’t take a simple action to claim it.
Knowing about where to find Jesus, but never looking Him up, has some similarities to this. In order to benefit from the gospel, we must follow its directions to receive the blessing.
However, if you’ve heard about Jesus, and took the step of accepting Him into your life as your Savior (receiving the free gift of salvation that He offers), God’s blessing was not intended to stop with you. Even the shepherds figured that out, without a bunch of theology training:
When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
Luke 2:17-18 NIV
Once we find the Savior, He is not just meant for us to keep to ourselves. There is plenty of room in the family of God, and those who have entered into it are expected to invite others to share in the joy that they have found.
Jesus’ life started with others telling the good news about Him (including the angels, and these shepherds), and after He returned to Heaven (leaving us with the Great Commission – see Matthew 28:19-20), sharing the good news continued through the church, including the great proclamation made on Pentecost (see Acts 2).
Today, I suspect that followers of Jesus (including myself) share this good news about Jesus Christ with different motivations:
- Some share the gospel out of obedience to the instructions of Jesus. These people understand that turning their life over to Him means that He should be obeyed.
- Some share the gospel out of excitement. Like a student who just got accepted into their ideal college, or the suitor who just got engaged, this news of becoming part of God’s family is so great that it can’t be kept to ourselves.
- Some share the gospel out of love for others. They want so much for other people to escape from a life of pointlessness (i.e., apart from Jesus) that they tell them about a better way, because they care about other people around them.
And, maybe we are doing best when we consider all of these motivations when we share the good news.
Did you see that those who heard the good news about Jesus weren’t described as skeptical, or obnoxious, or rude? Instead, they are described as “amazed”. Sharing the good news just might be received more positively than we fear it will be. After all, despite what people might think about words like “religion”, I’m pretty sure that everyone – deep down – is looking for healing from the damage that sin has wreaked on each of us.
So, let us continue to remember that the news about Jesus – our Savior, Messiah, and Lord – is indeed good news of great joy. However, let us never forget that just hearing the news isn’t enough. First, we must go and find Him for ourselves (although the good news is that He was – and is – right where God tells us). Then, we need to “spread the word” (v.17), so that others can celebrate, too.
Whether your current season of life is happy or sad, calm or busy, restful or stressful, plain or fancy, remember that those who follow Jesus can have joy. May we live in that joy, and share the good news about the source of that joy with others.
As the Christmas song says, “Go” and “Tell” it on the mountain, or wherever you happen to be this week!
From Sunday School lesson prepared for December 19, 2021
- The Lookout, December 19, 2021 © 2021 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.