The Joy of Christ
"But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." ~Luke 2:10-11
In preparation for last Sunday's sermon I read an article that caused me to pause and think about my reaction to Christmas. Here is a small portion of that article.
For years, our three stocking holders each brandished a letter: J O Y. It’s common Christmas decor. Joy in Christmas lights. Joy on banners. Joy in frames.
This year, as we unpacked our Christmas boxes, and did our annual purge, the JOY stocking holders wound up in the pile for the thrift store. The immediate cause was the advent of baby Mercy, born in April. Three letters are inadequate to hold four stockings. But perhaps we have a theological reason as well to let the JOY holders go.
Plain old joy undersells the glory of Christmas. Matthew and Luke accent different aspects of the birth story, but they sing this note in unison: Christ’s coming is not simply an occasion for joy, but great joy.(David Matthis, The Arrival of Great Joy)
Why is the coming of Christ great joy? Why did the magi rejoice great joy at the coming of Christ (Matt. 2:10)? Why did the angel tell the shepherds that his message for them was "good news of great joy" (Luke 2:10)? Why should you rejoice with great joy this Christmas?
1. Jesus is God with us.
An angel of the Lord spoke these words to Jesus' earthly father, Joseph, "BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL," which translated means 'GOD WITH US' " (Matthew 1:23). The child that Mary gave birth to was (and is) God. Jesus was a child unlike any other, for He was (and is) fully God and fully human. And this is good news of great joy because Jesus is able to bring everlasting peace between God and men. Because Jesus is fully human He is able to represent us and make atonement for our sins (Hebrews 2:17), and because He is fully God, Jesus is able to absorb the full penalty for our sin, ensuring that our sin is washed white as snow (Isaiah 1:18).
2. Jesus is Savior.
The angel announced to the shepherds, "For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior..." (Luke 2:10). As God with us, Jesus has come to deliver us from the penalty of sin, the power of sin, and the presence of sin. The penalty of sin is death, but Jesus was pierced, crushed, and wounded for our sins so that we might live eternally with God (Romans 6:3; Isaiah 53:4-6, 10-11). The power of sin enslaves us to a life of unrighteousness, but Jesus has come to free us to live righteously (Romans 6:17-18; 2 Corinthians 5:17). The presence of sin hinders us throughout this life, but Jesus is sanctifying all Believers in this life and will present them blameless in the Day of Judgment (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
3. Jesus is Lord.
The child who was born and laid in a manger 2000 years ago was (and is) Christ the Lord (Luke 2:10). Jesus has sovereign authority over all creation, every nation, and you. Since Jesus is Lord, you are wise to do two things: (1) Submit to His rule in your life by obeying His commands. (2) Trust His providence. Jesus deserves your allegiance and promises that all who follow Him will have His care and protection throughout this life and on through eternity (Matthew 28:20, John 12:26, John 14:3).
Joy was born in Bethlehem, and He provides great joy for "all the people" (Luke 2:10). Jesus offers great joy to shepherds and magi, janitors and superintendents, plumbers and politicians, and farmers and free-loaders. Jesus offers great joy to all people, including you. How will you react to the great joy that Jesus offers?
HOW TO USE THIS SERMON THIS WEEK?
1. Devote one day to thinking about each point.
a. Jesus is God with us. (Isaiah 7:14; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 9:10)
b. Jesus is Savior. (Isaiah 53; Romans 6; Colossians 2:13-15)
c. Jesus is Lord. (Romans 10:9-13; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:13-20)
2. Read Luke 2:1-20 to your family and talk about how Jesus brings great joy to the world.
3. Spend time in prayer (even on the way to work), thanking God for offering great joy to you this Christmas.