I love Christmas, I really do! It’s my favorite holiday and my favorite time of year because the air is charged with a different kind of spirit and expectation that something’s coming. Even though I love Christmas and I’ve been listening to Christmas music since way before it was socially acceptable to do so (sorry to anyone who has ridden in my car in the last month), it still seems to sneak up on me, and then pass with more of a fizzle than a bang… so, in expectation of Christmas, and in an effort to get my mind right for the holidays, I am going to do a short devo every day leading up to Christmas built out of some of my favorite Christmas carols. I hope you’ll join me for some or all of these next 12 days of Christmas!
Joy to the World
(this content is from my guest-post on a friend’s blog that can be found here)
What is the best news you could receive right this second? Honestly, what’s that thing that if your phone started buzzing in your pocket, and someone on the other side gave you the news, you would jump out of your chair in excitement?
I can think of a few things that would get me out of my chair: an all-expense-paid trip with friends, a new car, a free house. All of these things are tangible. I can look at them and experience them in a physical, measurable way. If I got the phone call, it would be easy to acknowledge that those things are good news to me. If we are honest, sometimes we aren’t so sure why Christmas is really good news. Yeah its a joyful season, but what is it about this baby in a manger that means we’ve got to spend a month singing special songs and falling off ladders trying to put up lights?
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” (Luke 2:10).
The gospel is the good news (literally what the word means) of Jesus coming. If you’ve ever read the Bible, it’s happy for about two chapters, and then everything falls apart. Mankind messes up their relationship with the good, holy God who created them, and then from Genesis chapter 3 until Jesus comes, it’s a story of God patiently trying to help and clean up His people while they do awful things and profane His name. The reason God is so patient (and doesn’t just crush all of them in one sweeping knock-out punch) is because He has been promising a savior to come and make things right. Jesus coming is good news because He is the fulfillment of that promise.
When these angels show up (think how crazy that would be), they are announcing the arrival of the most important person in human history. An entire civilization had been awaiting His coming, and the world hasn’t stopped talking about Him since he left. This is not because Jesus was some good teacher who made a lot of people feel good, in fact Jesus made a lot of people really mad. Jesus coming is good news because He came as the sacrifice to pay for the sins of mankind, and whoever puts their faith in Him is restored in their relationship with God. This is valuable. This even gets the angels excited.
During Christmastime it’s easy to find joy in things that are not Jesus. People give us presents, we give to others, we decorate trees, we look at lights, we build fires, drink hot chocolate, and see people we don’t get to see all year long. This is a joyous season, but the season passes, and the momentary joys it brings fade. We’ve all gotten a gift we are tired of by December 26. Every year my brother and I get R/C helicopters, and every year they are destroyed by New Years. This is a picture of how worldly joys are, they have an expiration date, they don’t last.
The gospel of grace given in Jesus is a joy that does not fade, does not expire, and that can not be destroyed (1 Peter 1:4). Jesus calls the kingdom of God a treasure that is worth everything we have (Matthew 13:44). When we see how valuable Jesus is, and how good of news His work on the cross is for us, we can’t help but see that the world’s joys are faded and fading. We are made for a fuller joy that is only offered in Jesus. He is the only one offering fullness of life (John 10:10). Let’s seek joy in Jesus this Christmas.
Pray: Father, give us joy rooted in your gospel. Help me to see the things of this world for what they are, faded and fading. Help me to see you for who you are, merciful and loving. God, give me a heart that desires you and finds joy in you. Help me to see you as my treasure.