Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 8, 1983
NUMBER 6, PAGE 2,14b

A Birth Announcement

Brooks C. Webb

"I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people; for there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this is the sign unto you: Ye shall find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and 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 among men in whom he is well pleased.'" (Luke 2:10-14.) Thus reads the divine announcement of the fleshly birth of the only begotten son of God.

The bosom of every father swells with unspeakable pride as he sends forth the announcement of his child — especially his first born son. We have read many and varied announcements, but this comes with a tenderness and sweeping sublimity which is not immediately comprehended by those who read it. This proclamation, made by an angel of God, and accompanied by a great angelic chorus, is heralded from the sky seemingly as though the heavens would burst should the great news not be spread.

Such a glorious occasion and impressive announcement must surely be heralded to all men and received with intense joy by them all But it is not so! The announcement, so far as revelation informs us, was made only to the shepherds, who were just about as lowly esteemed as a class of people could be. But it was to this poor, despised group, whose occupation has been described by some as semi-sacred, that God saw fit to make known first the advent of the long awaited Messiah. And it was this group of shepherds tending the sheep on Judean hills whom God selected as the first preachers of the new-born king.

And rather than the news being received with pleasure and delight, it was received with jealousy and a determination to put the babe to death. Rather than bringing immediate general happiness, the announcement resulted in untold sorrow for every mother who had a child under the age of two years, (Matt. 2) and necessitated the flight of the infant and family into Egypt.

The birthplace as told by the herald angel was not in a kingly palace, as man would probably select for the birth of his son. Nor was it in an immaculate and spotless delivery room, attended by the finest obstetricians available, in the most modern hospital in the country. Indeed, it was not even as people strive to depict his birth in so-called nativity scenes today at the season designated by men as Christmas. The scene was to be a stable, in a manger. Not a scene with angels hovering over him, with a spotless floor on which sat the tidy and neat manger, with all the occupants of that stable washed and spotlessly groomed. No, our Lord was born in a real stable. Did you ever stop to think about what the stable was really like? A dark, dingy place, possibly hewn from rock, or at best consisting of only rough walls, dirty floors, reeking from the refuse of the animals was the delivery room for Jesus. Only the hay tossed to the animals in the manger was clean. Papini observes, "It was not by chance that Christ was born in a stable. What is the world but an immense stable where men produce filth and wallow in it? Do they not daily change the most beautiful, the purest, the most divine things into excrements? Then stretching themselves at full length on the piles of manure, they say they are enjoying life. Upon this earthly pig-sty, where no decorations or perfumes can hide the odor of filth, Jesus appeared one night, born of a stainless virgin armed only with innocence."

Thus from the very birth of Christ on earth he is associated with that which is lowly, and that which is nothing in the eyes of men. This caused the Jews to be disappointed in Him, for they could not comprehend their promised Messiah coming in such surrounding circumstances. They rather expected him to arrive with pomp and pageantry, arrayed in robes of regal splendor, summoning great armies and conquering the great Roman empire. Throughout his fleshly, childhood Jesus was still associated with the common man. He was with the carpenters, masons, blacksmiths and others of the "working class." His residence was in Nazareth, from which it was said that nothing good could come. His earthly ministry was in the main among the "working class" of people in heavily populated Galilee, traversing the smiling landscapes of the hills and dales of Galilee which were so alluring to the farmer. All of this should indicate to us that Jehovah regards not the great and mighty things of this earth. These things are only temporal and transitory and shall one day be "consumed with fervent heat." (II Peter 3.)

What did this great birth announcement mean? And what does it mean for us today? For the Jews it meant deliverance from the ruling power of the Roman government, and a restoration of their kingdom — they thought! But what it really meant was as the angel proclaimed — He was come to save all men, "I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people." "In every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted of him." (Acts 10:35.) When breaking the news to Joseph the angel said, "he shall save his people from their sins." (Matt. 1:21.) And so the announcement of this birth today means for you that you can be freed from the bondage of sin, whether Jew or Gentile. That you need no longer wallow in the quagmire of iniquity, for unto us "a saviour is born." To Jesus who experienced such a despised beginning and lowly life has been given "all authority in heaven and earth" (Matt. 28:18) and that Saviour is now calling, "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matt. 11:28-30.)

— 1102 N. Mound Street, Nacogdoches, Texas