And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:10-11
In the fall of 2011, Mr. Bruce Wurdeman, LHM's executive director, and I visited Israel and Palestine. Upon our return he asked me to write a series of Lenten devotions which center on the Savior and some of the places we saw. This week's devotions fulfill his request. It is my prayer that the Lord will use them to bless you as well as those who will be traveling with us to the Holy Land in the fall of 2012. In Him, Pastor Ken Klaus
Years ago I met a woman whose husband had just died at home after a prolonged illness. She shared with me how, while the rest of the world prepared for Christmas, she had administered pain medication and spent sleepless nights by his side.
I said, "That had to be doubly difficult for you, especially during the holidays."
Then she told me how her neighbors, all Christians, had kept their Christmas lights burning 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They told her it was their way of letting her know that "We're thinking of you. We're praying for you. We're by your side, even if we're not at your house. We want you to see our lights, so you can be reminded that Jesus, the light of the world, is with you, too."
With tears the lady said, "God's light can punch holes in the darkest nights of the soul."
More than 2,000 years ago, some Bethlehem shepherds were given a similar message.
In many ways, they -- like the man in the story above -- were cut off. True, they may have derived some consolation in knowing King David had served as a shepherd in their fields, but the truth is this: their job, the sheep smell, and prejudice made them unwelcome in polite society.
Today you can still go to those rock-encrusted pastures. They have not changed much over the centuries. That is why it doesn't take much imagination to see those shepherds sitting by a fire, enduring a lonely, dark night. That's the way it would have been if God hadn't intervened.
But the Lord did intervene and He punched holes in the shepherds' darkness. At first there was one angel, and then there were a multitude.
What did they say? "Good news ... great joy ... for you ... a Savior."
With the birth of the Christ Child, the Lord was fulfilling an ancient promise made to a world that had been plunged into darkness by sin's disobedience. A Child placed in a Bethlehem manger was God's way of punching holes in the darkness of the shepherds, a man dying at home, in our own special darkness.
When the shepherds went to Bethlehem and saw this thing, this Baby, their Savior, they knew they had been privileged to observe something special.
Even so, gazing down at that Child, they could be forgiven for not knowing all He would endure to win their salvation. Looking at His little hands, they would not have known those hands would be pierced by nails. Watching His chest rise and fall in peaceful sleep, they would not have anticipated Him being stabbed by a Roman spear.
These pains and many others Jesus endured, so we might be forgiven of our sins and saved from hell. These hurts He suffered, so we might have good news ... great joy ... a Savior ... so we might have holes punched in our darkness.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord for sending Your Son to be my Savior I give thanks. May I be assured that His life, suffering, death and resurrection have punched holes in my darkness. For this good news and great joy I praise you. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries