One of the things that I miss about Christmas from when I was a kid is the sheer joy of the day. Not that Christmas is all about presents, but when kids receive presents, especially THE present that they wanted that year, there’s just a certain kind of joy there.
I still remember a bit of what it felt like, but Christmas, or at the least the gift giving at Christmas, ceased to create that same sense of joy once I reached high school. While you and I might not still experience that same over the top sense of joy that you did getting that one special present as a kid, Christmas should still bring us all great joy, regardless of age.
God’s Promises Should Bring Us Joy
Christmas reminds us that God has ushered in a new age and has started to make all things new. Though this will only be completed with the return of Christ (which we look forward to at Christmas), still, God has set things in motion that we should all rejoice in.
In the book of Isaiah, God often hints about how when the Messiah comes, that means something big is happening. He talks in Isaiah 40 about how the people will be so excited because God has returned to shepherd his sheep, the people of Israel.
In Isaiah 61, God tells us that with the coming of Messiah, the year of the Lord’s favor will begin. Prisoners will be released. Even the poorest of the poor will hear God’s good news. God will bring beauty out of ashes and will begin to restore all things.
In Zephaniah 3, God tells us that he’s going to take away the punishment for all the wrongs that have been committed. Even better than that, God is going to be present with His people.
All of these things are super exciting and should be cause for great joy. They probably caused great joy when they were first heard or read. But then there was that whole waiting thing. 400 years of silence dragged on after these prophecies were made.
And Old Man and a Virgin Sing Songs of Joy
Then all of a sudden, God appeared again. First, He came to Zechariah in the temple through an angel. In a story reminiscent of Abraham, God promises Zechariah that he and his wife, Elizabeth, are going to have a son, even though they’re both old and they’ve never been able to have children.
Then an angel comes to Mary and tells her that she is going to bear the Messiah. She’s shocked since she’s unmarried and a virgin, but she believes what the angel says.
Both Mary and Zechariah sing songs of joy. Zechariah sings after he gets his voice back following his son’s birth and Mary right after the angel appears to her. Take some time this holiday season to read these songs. They’re powerful.
Both Mary and Zechariah knew what the coming of the Messiah meant. God was doing a great new thing. He was going to restore all things. God was going to be present with his people again. Christmas reminds us that these are still works in progress. God is still doing a great new thing. He is still in the process of restoring all things and He will ultimately restore the earth when Jesus returns. God is and will remain present with His people.
Joy for Shepherds and Angels Too
The joy of the Christmas story isn’t just confined to Zechariah and Mary. Two very different and in some ways opposite groups are also filled with joy at the birth of the Savior: shepherds and angels. All of heaven rejoices at the commencement of God’s great plan to restore humanity. They treat a bunch of lowly shepherds to a heavenly concert.
After they got over the shock and awe, what a sense of joy those shepherds must have felt! What God had said would happen was beginning to come true. The good news was shared with the poorest, just as God had promised. How interesting that this news is shared with shepherds, an occupation which God used as an analogy of His own work among His people.
The Joy Continues Today
May you experience that same sense of joy this Christmas. It can be hard in the midst of the shopping and the decorating and the cooking and the eating and the parties, but it’s important to do. Go back and read some of the prophecies about what the birth of Jesus means. While these prophecies are partially fulfilled in Jesus’ birth, they will be ultimately fulfilled at His second coming.
God is doing a great work. He is setting everything aright. He will do this for humanity as a whole, but he also does it for individuals. How has God set your life right? How is he currently setting things right? How are you hoping he will set things right for you in the future? Rejoice for the past, present, and the future. God is up to something great. This alone is great news that should bring great joy.