Christmas joy. I asked you last week to think carefully about whether you’d be able to find reason for joy at Christmas, even if we had none of the Christmas celebrating, like all the decorating, gift giving, and gatherings we’ve grown so accustomed to. And we noted that there are, wonderful reasons for joy. We saw them in the first few verses of Luke 2 last week. I want you to go there with me again this morning. We’re going to look at a few more verses here in Luke 2 and we’ll see there are even more reasons for joy than we saw last time.
One of the places we hear reminders for real joy are in the songs we sing at Christmas. Joy To the World is the familiar hymn Isaac Watts wrote which we sing at Christmas time — we’ve sung it several times in recent weeks and we’ll sing it again today. It’s been a kind of theme song for us as we’ve been thinking about real Christmas joy. In fact, it’s one of those hymns which we hear the world singing this time of year. And there is great reason for joy — Isaac Watts sums up well in the first verse just why there’s such reason for joy.
Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing
Just think of it, just as we noted last time here in Luke 2, here’s real reason for joy — God became flesh, born as a babe, God incarnate, and the lowly circumstances of his birth bring great joy when we realize that Jesus wasn’t too good to take on human flesh and then suffer and die for our sins. And in that too is great reason for joy because, He did indeed come to save His people from their sins. And not only that, but the timing and circumstances of all of this was under God’s control, which is another reason for great joy as we understand that each of our days is in God’s hands. And there are even more reasons for joy.
So let’s look together at Luke 2:1-20
2:1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “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. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Yes there are even more reasons for Christmas joy as we pick up in verse 8 from where we left off last time.
When we come to verse 8, we’re leaving the scene of the birth of Christ, we’re leaving the cattle stall and the manger, and we’re entering the rocky hillsides and fields where there are shepherds tending to their sheep. And when the angel of the Lord appears to the shepherds, we hear these wonderful words in verse 10, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”
The angel of the Lord may have frightened the shepherds at first, but they would quickly learn there was no reason to fear. In fact, just the opposite would soon be seen in the shepherds response to the good news of great joy.
Yes, great joy, Christmas joy, why? Because the angel brings them…
1. Good news, of a Savior which is born, who is Christ the Lord (v. 11)
Christ the Lord, Jesus, come to save His people from their sins, we hear from Matthew 1:21. Yes, this Savior, who is Christ the Lord, would live a life that rescue the souls of all who put their faith in Him.
John the Baptist, when he saw Jesus coming would declare it, John 1:29, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
1 John 3:5 tells us that Jesus was the spotless, sinless Lamb of God, saying, he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.
Yes, Jesus, the sinless one, came to be the sacrificial lamb of God, as Colossians 1:20 tells us, making peace by the blood of his cross.
So yes, there’s good news of great joy. And it’s joy that’s all because a Savior has been born, Christ the Lord.
2. Note also, that the good news, points to great reason for Christmas joy, in that the birth of Christ was announced to shepherds.
The shepherds were not people highly esteemed by society. It’s incredible, that the arrival of Christ the Lord was not announced to royalty, not to the rich, and not to the powerful. The angel of the Lord said, in verse 10, that this good news will be for all the people.
In other words, the good news is given for all mankind — it’s not reserved for the privileged few — Jesus Christ is the way of salvation, made available to all mankind, with no distinction as to status or station in life. And the point is this. You need not be among the wealthy or the educated to be saved from your sin. And that is great reason for Christmas joy. That’s just the way God works — we hear it clearly from James 2:5,
5 …has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?
God sent the angels to announce to lowly shepherds, not to rulers, the birth of Christ, making available the riches of faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe in Him. Says 2 Corinthians 8:9,
9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.
That’s real Christmas joy — it’s the riches of Christ — it’s becoming rich in forgiveness of sin, by the mercies of Christ.
3. Which reminds us that the good news is especially good for all who believe in Jesus Christ. That’s another reason for Christmas joy.
The multitude of heavenly hosts, proclaimed this truth,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
The world over, people want peace. But here is the only real peace there is. It’s peace among those with whom God is pleased. Meaning those who do as God commands, believing in His son for salvation. Real peace is only found through faith in the Savior who is Christ the Lord.
Yes, all creation proclaims the glory of God, but nothing proclaims the glory of God like God becoming a man, and then dying to save sinners. But God cannot be pleased with, or give peace to, those who refuse to believe in His Son. John 17:3 puts it like this,
3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
God sent His son, to take the punishment for your sins, Great indeed, we confess, says 1 Timothy 3:16, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory. This is Christmas joy.
So this Christmas, and all year long, let’s do as the shepherds did — they said:
15 …“Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”
And they did,
16 ..they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Let’s be like the shepherds, let’s waste no time telling others of the Christ child and let’s be certain we’re the most joyful people on earth while we go.
As Charles Spurgeon told his church on Christmas Eve in 1854,
Feast, Christians, feast; you have a right to feast. Go to the house of feasting to-morrow, celebrate your Saviour’s birth; do not be ashamed to be glad; you have a right to be happy. Solomon says, “Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works. Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment.”
“Religion never was designed
To make your pleasures less.”
Recollect that your Master ate butter and honey. Go your way, rejoice tomorrow, but in your feasting, think of the Man in Bethlehem; let him have a place in your hearts, give him the glory, think of the virgin who conceived him, but think most of all of the Man born, the Child given.
(From: Go to the House of Feasting Tomorrow)
Photo by: D Sharon Pruitt