“And the angel said unto the, 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 Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11 KJV
As we enter into this third week of the Advent season, we focus our thoughts and hearts on JOY. Who doesn’t delight to see the joy on the faces of children this time of year? We greet one another with a joyful “Merry Christmas!” the word “merry” being a joyous greeting that repeats the message in our key verse – one of “great joy at the birth of Christ”. (Maybe that’s why there is such a PC battle over the traditional greeting.) We sing the Christmas hymn, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come!” Christmas is truly a time for joy.
But is our joy merely in the lights and gifts and festive activities at this time of year? Do we truly understand the reason for the joy of the Christmas season?
The angels brought the good news of the birth of Jesus with a proclamation of joy, and the fulfillment of a promise from God that the Jews had clung to centuries, the promise of the Messiah. God had promised to send a King who would rule in righteousness and justice, who would save His people and restore to them all that God had given to them. And they were right about the coming Messiah – yet they were also wrong. The Jews lived for hundreds of years under the oppression of enemy nations; the Babylonians, the Medes and Persians, the Greeks, and, at the time of Jesus birth, the Romans. Their beloved Jerusalem had been taken hostage by this sometimes cruel and evil nations, Rome being the worst. The Jews expected a Messiah who would break the Roman rule and restore Jerusalem back to its former glory in the days of David and Solomon.
But the true enemy of the Jews was the same enemy you and I have today. Our own sinfulness. Sin is what kept the Jews in bondage, and it is what keeps man in bondage still today. The Messiah of God came, not to break the back of an enemy nation, but to break the bonds of sin that keep mankind imprisoned. Jesus came as an infant, not to give us a reason to party, but to bring freedom from the bonds of sin. And that is the true JOY of Christmas. The baby Jesus in the manger is the Savior Jesus on the Cross, and the Risen Jesus who has “proclaimed freedom for the prisoners, release for the oppressed” and the JOY of “the Lord’s favor.”
Don’t let your Christmas JOY stop at the tree. Look beyond the tinsel and wrappings and see the Messiah in the manger, the Savior on the Cross and the Risen Christ who has come to set you free. JOY to the world, indeed!
Holy Jesus, Messiah, Savior, and risen King, fill my heart with the true JOY of this Advent season. Let me ring the freedom bells of Christmas and proclaim – JOY to the world, the LORD has come, let earth receive Her KING!” Amen.