The term “good news” is not just found in the Christian Scriptures. Darrell Bock, in his NIV Application Commentary on Luke, writes,
“The text refers to the announcement as “good news,” using the verbal form of the word from which we get the term gospel. The term is not culturally insignificant, since the birth of the emperor Augustus was announced with a report of “good news” and the arrival of a “savior.” Luke’s remarks intend a similar declaration of this baby’s greatness.”
Luke’s Christmas narrative is not so much about a “Silent Night,” a peaceful and quaint story that is supposed to give us warm fuzzy feelings.
Scot McKnight spells out how Luke tells a tale of subversion of powers.
“Rome’s gospel told of the significance of Caesar Augustus for the world. Rome’s history took a new turn with Augustus, the adopted son of the dictator Julius Caesar. After his death, Julius Caesar was officially declared to be a god. When Augustus seized power, he was deemed a savior because he ended bitter civil wars and created the peace of Rome (pax Romana). The gospel of Rome was that Augustus, a ‘son of (a) god,’ saved Rome by bringing peace to the world.” ("The Mary We Never Knew," Christianity Today, Dec. 2006, pp. 29-30)
This is the gospel that as is also proclaimed by the Apostle Paul. As N.T. Wright says,
“I have argued at length elsewhere that the word "gospel" carries two sets of resonances for Paul. On the one hand, the gospel Paul preached was the fulfillment of the message of Isaiah 40 and 52, the message of comfort for Israel and of hope for the whole world, because YHWH, the god of Israel, was returning to Zion to judge and redeem. On the other hand, in the context into which Paul was speaking, "gospel" would mean the celebration of the accession, or birth, of a king or emperor. Though no doubt petty kingdoms might use the word for themselves, in Paul's world the main "gospel" was the news of, or the celebration of, Caesar.” (Wright, Paul's Gospel and Caesar's Empire)
When we CONTRAST the Roman Emperor with King Jesus, what we have in the announcement to the Shepherds that the real good news has been announced, that the real savior of the world had been born, and that he is none other than Christ the Lord.
This is the meaning of Christ's birth.
This means not trying to overpower that which is overpowering me or others with worldly strength.
It means being gentle and weak, humble and meak.
It means not trying to manipulate life in order to overcome that which oppresses --
___carrying my own cross,
___dying to my old self,
___and submitting to God's Spirit as he transforms me into that which subverts powers:
______a person capable of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
It is when we follow Jesus in his humility and subversive actions (the baby lying in a manger, the one willing to die on a cross) that we, as His followers, can transform the world.
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