“And the angel said unto them, 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
Joy is synonymous with Christmas. It’s written on cards and ornaments and sung in our favorite Christmas carol, Joy to the World! It shines in the eyes of little children at the sight of Santa and the presents under the tree. Joy fills out hearts as we embrace loved ones and are reunited with far-away family. But is our joy merely in the lights and gifts and celebrations 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, because God had fulfilled a promise to which the Jews had looked for centuries, the promise of the Messiah 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 expected a Messiah who would break the enemy’s 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 men in bondage today. The Messiah of God did not come to break the back of an enemy nation, but to break the bonds of sin that keep mankind imprisoned. And that is the true joy of Christmas.
Beloved, 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!