The town of Raqqa, Syria, used to be a pretty nice place to live. That is, before ISIS marched in and took over. Now everyone is forced to live under their draconian laws. No one is allowed to leave. A squad of goons patrols the town, looking for people to arrest. Commonly, those arrested, even for minor offenses, are publicly tortured, mutilated, beheaded or crucified. In other words, life in Raqqa is not much different from life in Bethlehem when Jesus was born. Particularly with the public floggings and crucifixions.
Consider that, and read this:
Luke 2:10 — 11
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.
Good news? Really? Suppose you lived in Raqqa, trapped and terrified, and an angel came and said, “Good news! A savior has come!” But then he tells you the savior is an infant, so you are going to have to be patient… Would that really seem like good news? Wouldn’t you rather have a savior who was special forces and flew a helicopter?
Most people felt the same way back in first century Bethlehem. They didn’t realize their captivity was not primarily to the Romans but to their own self-destructive, sinful urges. As awful as it was to be under the thumb of cruel, pagan conquerors, far worse was the threat of eternal damnation. Jesus was born as a baby and lived a normal and yet sinless life in order to be qualified to set them (and us) free from captivity to sin.
Joseph received this angelic message in a dream:
She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
I am certain there are people in Raqqa today who are discovering this Savior, just as some did in Bethlehem. His salvation is just as powerful today as it was then, bringing peace and freedom despite dark and desperate circumstances. Jesus gives eternal life that not even ISIS can destroy. And that really is “good news for all the people.”