We were made for joy. Above all joy in God.

JOY is at the heart of the Christmas message. The angels declared that it was good news of great JOY. Notice that GREAT JOY! Not A deep down in your heart, quiet, reserved joy, but a shout it from the rooftops type of JOY. The baby John leapt in his mother’s womb for JOY when Mary pregnant with Jesus visited Elisabeth.

JOY comes through being right with a holy, loving and just God. No easy thing. God is utterly holy – something perhaps we don’t give too much thought to these days. But he is. And we? We like to think we are much better than we are, but the reality is our sin and fall was so great there was no way we could improve on ourselves. All, says scripture, have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. Not just a bit, but completely short. The gulf seemingly impassable and impossible. The JOY was gone.

But God.

Whenever you get a “but” in a story or conversation, you know there’s a turn of events coming. A reversal. An up-ending. And the story or conversation is going to take a new and surprising direction. So it is with the human story. But God. Think about it. There’s JOY in the “but.”

God resolved to put things right. But this wouldn’t be easy, it would require both God and a man. His answer? Jesus as God and man. The One who was co-equal with the Father and the Spirit, God from eternity, would become a human. Very God, very Man. So, the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us – those who saw him said, We beheld his glory, the glory as of the One and Only (or begotten) Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. JOY!

And his name would be called Jesus because he would save his people from their sins – he would be the long awaited Saviour. JOY!

He was also called Emmanuel, God with us – the Word became flesh. Not God out there, but God right here. Not distant from our predicament but right here with us in it. Another reason for JOY.

The prophet said that this was not only good news of salvation – a God who saves – but also a demonstration that God reigns. In the midst of the turmoil, the lostness, the confusion and chaos of a fallen world, God was still reigning and at work. More reason for JOY. So he goes on to encourage them to shout for JOY and burst into songs of JOY together because God was doing a new thing, and not just for them, he was going global: all the ends of the earth would see the salvation of God (Is 52:7-10).

That message has since crossed continents, cultures, in fact every boundary know to man down through the centuries and has brought joy to countless millions. The JOY of knowing that God has done what we couldn’t do. The JOY of that first Christmas. The JOY of salvation – of sins forgiven and being made right with a holy and just God; the JOY of God present with us; the JOY of knowing that God reigns and rules; the JOY of living in a day by day relationship with God who is the source of JOY.

As the old catechism says, “the chief end of mankind is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.”

Don’t forget to find JOY in God this Christmas season.

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