I might have titled this “Historic News and The Antithesis” were it not for the sixth graders, who use the term “epic” to describe their most significant events. Epic speaks of something heroic, legendary, grand. Certainly the news I’m referring to was grand, and signaled the culmination of hundreds of years of promises.
It was the angel of the Lord who said to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. “ It was, of course, the news of the long awaited coming of the Savior, Christ the Lord.
The tidings, as you notice, were of great joy. Joy is a part of all the nativity announcements and experiences. The angel told Zechariah about his wife bearing a son, John, and said, “you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.” The angel said to Mary, “Rejoice, highly favored one.” Before John was born, he leaped in the “womb for joy” at the sound of Mary’s greeting. When John the Baptist was born, Elizabeth’s neighbors and relatives “rejoiced with her.” Mary sang, “my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.”
The wise men, when approaching Bethlehem, saw the star which they had seen in the East. When they did so, “they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.”
The modern usage of rejoice means to feel or show great delight. The English verb “to rejoice” comes from the Old French joir, to experience joy, and the added stem re, which expresses intensive force.
Not everyone had intense delight, though. Matthew 2 tells us that when Herod the king heard that the King of the Jews had been born, “he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.” Herod lies to the wise men, feigning mutual interest, and sets a false plan. He’s exceedingly angry when the magi leave, and viciously orders the murder of Bethlehem’s male babies and toddlers.
In this story, we see servants of the King of Kings, and we see an enemy. We witness the rejoicing of the Lord’s servants at His coming, and we see the murderous fury of His enemies, a fury actually directed against the true King.
The theologian Abraham Kuyper described an antithesis, an opposition, between the regenerate and the unregenerate. The two camps see the world differently because one acknowledges God as God, and the other does not. They come to different conclusions; they have different pre-suppositions. The antithesis can be seen in Scripture and all around us.
Here is where we come into the picture. We, too, were once enemies of God. Yet by His grace, we have become His children. The Savior bore our sins for us, and we have been freed. He has come, and He has come for us! That should bring about our own rejoicing. Epic rejoicing!
Quotes from the New King James Bible (Luke 1:14, 28, 44, 47, 58, 2:10, Mt 2:10)