Good News of Great Joy: Luke 2:15-20

Advent Week 5

As we come to this final reflection on the Christmas story in Luke’s Gospel, I want to complement these verses with three of my favorite Christmas hymns that I think fit the context of our passage. The first is “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” It appropriately captures the immediate verses in our passage where the angels praise God for the gift of his Son, “a Savior who is Christ the Lord” (2:11):


“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”

“Hark!” The herald angels sing, “Glory to the new-born King;

Peace on earth, and mercy mild; God and sinners reconciled.”

Joyful, all ye nations rise, Join the triumph of the skies;

With angelic hosts proclaim, “Christ is born in Bethlehem!”

“Hark!” The herald angels sing, “Glory to the new-born King.”


The angels sang their song of praise in verse 14 to humble shepherds tending their sheep. The song moved them to action, “Let us go over to Bethlehem (“the house of Bread”) and “the city of David” (v. 11) and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us” (v. 15).

Saying they were moved to action is an understatement! The Bible says, “They went with haste” (v. 16). Like Mary (1:39), they responded immediately, as we all should, to God’s word. Arriving in Bethlehem, they saw exactly what the angels had told them (vv. 11-12): They “found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. This baby, as they were told, is the “Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (v. 11). Such news was too good to keep to themselves.

Verse 17 records the actions of what I love to call the “Christmas Evangelist”: “They made known the saying that had been told them concerning the child.” The shepherds took on the work of angels! Think about it. We do the work of angels when we tell others the good news of the Savior named Jesus. People who heard the gospel, which means “good news,” from the shepherds “wondered at what the shepherds told them” (v. 18). They reflected with amazement over these words.

Eventually, “the shepherds returned” to their work of tending sheep, though they would never be the same after this night. They went back to their job “glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen as it had been told them” (v. 20).  They had a new song in their hearts and a gospel they had to share. “Gossiping about Jesus” was their new priority. Perhaps another song captures well the actions of these humble, Christmas evangelists of the newborn Savior:


“Go Tell It on the Mountain”

Go tell it on the Mountain, Over the hills and ev’rywhere;

Go tell it on the Mountain That Jesus Christ is born.

Down in a lowly manger The Humble Christ was born.

And God sent us salvation That blessed Christmas morn.

Go tell it on the mountain, Over the hills and ev’rywhere;

Go tell it on the Mountain That Jesus Christ is born.


Finally, what about Mary, the reflective mother, in our story? Verse 19 gives us the answer to our question: “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” The Message says, “Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself” (v. 19).

Mary kept — that is, she treasured continually and pondered (went over the things she had seen and the words she had heard) — all these things in her heart. There was ongoing contemplation and reflection now, and I suspect throughout her Son’s entire life. She would watch him grow into a man, “the Savior” — once born in a manger and later nailed to a cross for the sins of the world. She will be the only human with him from the beginning to the end of his earthly life.

The great Greek scholar A.T. Robertson says of verse 19, “But did Mary also keep a Baby Book? And may not Luke have seen it” (W.P., vol II, 26). I suspect she did, at least in her heart. We, are the beneficiaries, of her heart’s diary. So, I close our devotion with a final Christmas hymn:


“Mary, Did You Know?”

Mary, did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?

Mary, did you know that your baby boy will one day rule the nations?

Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb;

And the sleeping Child you’re holding is the great I Am!


Mary treasured and pondered all these things in her heart. May we follow in her footsteps as we celebrate the greatest Christmas gift of all, Jesus, a Savior who is Christ the Lord.

Prayer from Wayne Jenks

Father, your graciousness to me is overwhelming and amazing, just like it was to the people who heard the shepherds report and to Mary who watched this scene unfold.

Help me have the same passion for Jesus these shepherds had. Allow me to learn more about Jesus, increasing my desire to come to where he is.

I pray that you will prevent me keeping secret what I know about this baby who was found lying in a manger; instead, empower my worship to captivate friends and strangers so they can share in the amazement of Jesus coming to dwell among men.


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