Joy to the World
The night Jesus was born, an angel appeared to shepherds, who were watching their flocks in the Judean countryside outside Bethlehem. The shepherds were terrified as the angelic being appeared to them and the glory of God shone in the darkness of the night. The angel told them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12 NIV)
Good news of great joy. What kind of news brings great joy to the heart? Certainly ranking high up the list would be news of the birth of a baby in the family. The couple's first kiss at a wedding would also rank up there. And there was great joy among Cubs fans when the team won the World Series after 108 years of "wait till next year."
A Savior has been born to you. This is the best news ever announced in human history. God entered our world. The Deity became a baby. The Almighty became one of us. And as Jesus took on flesh-and-blood in our world, He came not to judge us or rule over us, but to save us from sin and death.
Jesus would grow up to be the embodiment of God's holiness and grace and truth. He would go to a cross and lay down His life as payment for the sins of the world, a payment none of us can afford. No wonder the angel told the shepherds he brought "good news of great joy!"
Jesus is the source of the deepest joy a human being can know, because Jesus connects us to our Father. He restores the broken relationship between us and the God who made us for Himself. When we place our faith in Jesus Christ and know our sin is forgiven and our God loves us, there is a deep joy that goes far beyond the kind of happiness we experience when good things happen in our lives.
Happiness comes from happenings. From circumstances and events that please us. Joy comes from Jesus. From knowing the God who loves us beyond our comprehension and gives us grace we do not deserve and cannot earn.
The birth of Jesus in human hearts by the decision to trust Him for salvation brings great joy. I still remember the night, now 52 years ago, when I knelt beside my bed and asked Jesus to come into my life. What I felt was deep peace with God. What I felt was great joy because I had given my life to Him. And to this day, there is joy in knowing Jesus, apart from anything good or bad that happens in my life.
I have a Savior. His name is Jesus. I am His and He is mine. Nothing else in my life compares to the joy of that. The only thing that comes close is the joy I feel in the deepest relationships of my life. The joy of loving and being loved by my wife, Shirley, warts and all. The joy of being Dad to my children and their spouses. The joy of loving and being loved by the people of the congregation I pastor.
Happiness comes from happenings. Joy comes from Jesus. The angel was right. The birth of my Savior is "good news of great joy!" Do you know Him?