Good News of Great Joy

The church I serve at, Stones Crossing, has provided some online resources (including a short video devotional and coloring pages for kids) for your Christmas or Christmas Eve. Included is an article I wrote on the source of great joy, which I’ve provided below.

“Merry” Christmas

The Christmas season is often associated with words like merry, cheer, happiness, and joy. I love Christmas Day and I love most things about the Christmas season, such as a time to focus on Jesus and be reminded of God’s gracious gift to us in His Son, but also in things like holiday lights and décor, movies, songs, cookies, and picking out gifts for the people in my life. 

Both during the month of December and on Christmas morning, there can be many merry moments. But I’ve also learned that those moments can be fleeting or mixed. One day we can feel caught up in the fun of all the festivities and the next day we feel the weight of having lost a loved one, the brokenness of our families, that unanswered prayer leaving us grieved, or the end of another year with its discouragements and disappointments. Our hearts can full at a Christmas party and then be overwhelmed with loneliness or sorrow the next evening. There can be great joy on Christmas morning, but as we take down the décor and put away the tree, there might be feelings of sadness as we go our separate ways from people we love or return to the normalcy of our everyday lives—and brace for the upcoming winter that will drag on. 

The Christmas season can some years feel like an up-and-down ride, with its fair share of highs and lows that leave us either smiling in glee or feeling a bit whiplashed as it comes to an end. Holiday happiness can at times feel like a tease. It comes and goes. It feels so close one year and so far away the next. It might even leave us asking things like, “Is joy meant to be so fleeting? Is there a place to find a joy that won’t fade like those cheap batteries included in the toys we bought and won’t feel like it’s put away in the attic for another year once the décor is gone? Is there a deeper, more lasting joy to be discovered?” The answer is “Yes.” In the words of the angels, “I bring you good news of great joy.” In Jesus, there is joy. Great, deep, and lasting joy. 

Journeying toward Joy

One of the things I’ve noticed as I read through the birth narratives of Jesus is how His birth is associated with joy. Not just the general joy from a baby’s birth, but a unique and deep joy because of who Jesus is and what He will do for the world.

In Matthew 2, as the wisemen see this special star in the sky leading them to the birthplace of Jesus, it says: “When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him” (Matt. 2:10-11).

What kind of joy do they have? “They rejoiced with great joy.” And their joy at the sight of Jesus flows into worship as they see Him for who He truly is.

Or in Luke 1, when Mary (pregnant with Jesus) visits her cousin Elizabeth (pregnant with John), Elizabeth says that the sound of Mary’s voice causes the baby in her to leap for joy (Luke 1:44). Elizabeth says blessed is Mary among women because she carries their Lord inside of her. 

Mary responds to all of this with her own words in the Magnificat, including the opening words: “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,” (Luke 1:46-47). She rejoices, or takes joy, in the fact that God remembers His covenant and will through her son fulfill all His promises. He is faithful…always.

And then shortly after Jesus is born, when an angel appears to the shepherds in their fields, he says: “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). After the shepherds see Jesus, it says they return, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.

As we consider the birth and the coming of Jesus, it is meant to create the same response in us. When we set our eyes on Jesus, we find joy. Too often during Christmas, joy feels allusive because our eyes and hearts are set on a hundred other things. But like the shepherds and wise men discovered, joy can be found when we look in the right place. Jesus offers the gift of joy to those who look on him and recognize who he is and all that he has done for them.

That’s why we sing songs like “Joy to the World.” We have reasons to rejoice because the sending of the Son from the Father is how He gifts to us joy. 

With Jesus, we have this bedrock of joy in our life, not because we’re always happy in everything or because life is easy, but Jesus gives an abiding joy that even life’s toils and troubles cannot uproot. Because Jesus is with us on the mountain, in the valley, and along every nook and cranny of our journey, joy is never far away.

Just like in the stories of Christ’s birth in the Bible, those who look upon Jesus with the eyes of faith find joy when they see who He is and how His coming into our world changes everything. And this morning, as we set our eyes on Jesus, as we recall the glories of God coming down to us so we might be brought near to Him, we find joy in Him. He drank every last drop of the cup of wrath, bitterness, and pain for us at the cross so that we might drink up of the joy and life He gives to us. 

Wherever you are and whatever you’re going through, joy is possible because Jesus is present. Joy is within your reach so long as you set your sights on Christ.

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come
Let Earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare Him room.”

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You can follow me on Twitter or Instagram @IndyCrowe for the short & sweet stuff.

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