This is our third portion of our Advent series. Advent is just a way we can try and focus our attention on Jesus during one of the busiest times of the year. Because, “Jesus is the reason for the season”, we want to reflect on what His birth means for us.
The first week of advent is about Hope. It is the expected Hope that was promised to Old Testament Saints, realized in Christ’s birth, and ultimately the Hope of Heaven we now eagerly wait for. The second week we looked at Peace. The fact that we need peace because sin has destroyed peace, through Christ’s sacrifice we can have Peace with God again, and it is only through Jesus that this peace can be achieved because His very name is Peace.
This week we look at the Joy of advent.
Again, please take some time and look up each passage and read it with the family or some friends to discuss, or just meditate on them yourself throughout your day and week.
1-The Arrival of Joy
Joy is a word we see a lot during Christmas time. It is on wreaths, in lights, in stores, at churches, it is all over the place. It’s because the arrival of Jesus was met with Joy. Luke 2:10-11 the angel tells the shepherds “good news of great joy” and when the wise men saw the star in Matthew 2:10 they “rejoiced with exceedingly great joy." Sometimes we don’t realize how monumental something was until we look back and reflect on it. It can be difficult in the moment to realize the magnitude of a specific event. Both the shepherds and the wise men recognized the magnitude of Christ’s birth and celebrated with joy. One of my favorite Christmas carols is “O Come O Come Emmanuel.” I love the way the song makes you feel an angst with the use of the minor chords, the way the lyrics point to the longing and waiting of the arrival of Immanuel; it’s beautiful. Being on this side of the first Christmas sometimes it’s easy to miss how much sorrow there was before the arrival of Christ. The people were lost, God hadn’t spoke to them in 400 years. They were waiting for something, anything, that would show them God was still there and still cared. That first Christmas night when Christ was born the longing and angst was replaced with celebration and Joy.
The question is, why so much joy? Like most things, there are varying degrees of joy. As great a joy as it is when you pull into a busy parking lot and a parking space opens up just as you pull up, that joy doesn’t compare with the joy of your child being born. Baby’s bring a particular level of joy, but why was this baby so special? In Luke 2:29-32 a man named Simeon sees Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus in the temple and he recognizes who this baby is. He says that his eyes have seen God’s salvation for all people. Baby Jesus arrived with greater joy than any other baby previously, or since born because with the arrival of Jesus was the arrival of salvation. In John 1:29 when John the Baptist (Jesus’ cousin) sees Jesus coming he says, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” This is why there is so much joy, exceedingly great joy. Because salvation arrived. The one who would fulfill the promise given to Abraham that all nations would be blessed was born. That is why there is joy, because we no longer wait and look and long for a Messiah, rather we see and know and experience our Messiah.
Because our savior is here, we get to experience lasting joy. Salvation gives us a chance to experience a joy that cannot be found anywhere else. All joy we find in this world is temporary and eventually fades away. John 10:10 Jesus says He came that we might have life abundantly, or life to the fullest. The only way to find full satisfaction, full joy in life is through Jesus. In John 15:11 Jesus says that His desire is that we would have His joy and that in experiencing His joy our joy would be full. The Greek word for full in John 15:11 means to cram something in. When we recognize Jesus is our savior and begin walking with Him in relationship, He stuffs our lives as full as possible with Joy. The joy Jesus offers is like food at Christmas dinner, you eat until you are stuffed and then the dessert comes out and you cram more in. This doesn’t mean there won’t be difficulties and struggles in life, it means that in those difficulties and struggles we can still find joy in who Jesus is and what He has done for us.
This type of joy should absolutely change our lives. Recognizing that Jesus’ birth marked the arrival of joy because He came to be our Savior so we could experience true joy should completely change the way we live.
We can walk in joy in the midst of a health crisis, job loss, natural disaster, relational conflict, loss of a loved one, or anything else that we may come across because we know the Messiah, the Savior of the world has come offering salvation to all who believe.
This Christmas take time to focus on joy. Remember that this baby we are celebrating came to stuff as much joy into your life by giving you hope and by giving you peace that cannot be found anywhere else. Remember that the joy we experience is because one day we can sing, “Joy to the world the Savior reigns!”