What is the definition of a “good person”? Is it someone who has high morals, takes good care of their family, is honest, loving and gives to others? Those are certainly good qualities, but they do not constitute a good person.
THE BAD NEWS: Jesus said no one is good but God. (Matthew 19:17) So, that leaves us out. Romans 3:10-12 tells us “There is none righteous, no, not, one; There is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside [gone out of the way]; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one.” What God calls good and what we label as good are two very different things. That is a problem. The fact is we are all born into this world with a sin nature that is a barrier between us and God because He is holy, righteous and good. There is nothing we can do to rid ourselves from this sin nature no matter how hard we try. It calls for our death and eternal punishment.
THE GOOD NEWS: Although we have no way to remedy the problem, God has made a way, an astonishing way! The good news was delivered by the angels to the shepherds on the night of Jesus’ birth. Remember the words of the angel? “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord… 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, good will toward men.”
Did you grasp the magnitude of the angels’ announcement? First, this message is for everyone! The shepherds, the innkeeper, Mary, Joseph, you and me. Everyone!! The good news is that God has not set His will against us. His will and intentions toward us are good. 2 Peter 3:9 says that God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” So, Jesus, the Christ, came to bring peace between us and God, to remove the barrier. We had no means to broker that peace, so He did it for us. God took on human flesh, lived a perfect life and died a brutal death on the cross in our place, taking our sin upon Himself so that we can be freed from our sin nature. He rose from the dead so we can live our lives on this earth as He lived His, then be with Him forever when this life is over.
“For he hath made him (Jesus) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)
Imagine God, the one true God of the universe Who is perfect in holiness, taking our sin for us, so that we can be like Him. What love the Father has for us! He loved us when we didn’t know Him, didn’t love Him and were steeped in sin inside and out. He provided the remedy for us to receive eternal life instead of eternal death.
THE RESPONSE: It is up to us to respond to this incredible, eternal gift. Our response determines the life we will live on this earth as well as our eternal destination, whether it will be heaven or hell. To receive this great gift, we must come into agreement with God to the fact that we are sinners. Then we can turn from sin and surrender our lives to Jesus, allowing Him to change us to bear His image of righteousness rather than our image of sin. With His Spirit in us, our desires change and we will choose to live the way He lived, sharing this “good news of great joy” to other people, putting others before ourselves, being sold out to do the will of the Father. Jesus provided the way, but we must make the choice. We can come to Him or walk away and reject His offer of peace.
After the shepherds saw the angels and heard their message, they had a choice to go back to life as usual or to pursue Jesus above everything else. They responded with believing hearts. True believers act on what they have heard, and that is exactly what they did. The shpherds found the Messiah just as the angel said, as a baby in a manger. They met Mary and Joseph face to face. They were not content to only hear the good news. They acted on it. Once they did, they made this news “widely known”. They aggressively shared the good news. That’s what it means to believe. “And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.” (Luke 2:18, 20) The news is still good – the best we could ever have! Once we have heard, it is time to meet Jesus face to face and surrender our lives to Him. The provision of our salvation was up to God. Our response is up to us.
Just to think! We were not seeking God, but He was seeking us! He made the first move.
“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:6
“We love Him because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19