Sunday, December 26, 2010

[Matt's Messages] "Joy to the World"

“Joy to the World”
December 26, 2010
Luke 2:10

The angel said to them (v.10), “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”

Good news of great joy for all the people.

“Joy to the World!”

What is joy?

I mean, we all know what it is, but it’s hard to define.

And the world has so many counterfeits.

What is joy?

On Tuesday, we stopped at McDonalds on the way back from the airport, and I got this cup full of Coca Cola.

And I noticed that one side it says, “Enjoy” in big letters with a splash of water (which is most of what Coca Cola is, I think).

And on the other side themed for Christmas it says, ‘Refresh with Joy: Let the little bubbles tickle as they quench your thirst.  I’m lovin’ it.”

Refresh with Joy.  And the O in the Joy is fizzy Coke bubbles.

Is that what joy is?

Is joy found in a cup of Coke?


But I think the McDonald marketers are onto something.

Joy is satisfaction.

Joy is a thirst quenched.

Joy is a delight in something that refreshes you.

True joy is delightful satisfaction in God and what He has done.

The theme of joy is all over the Bible.

From cover to cover, you could say that the Bible is a story of joy.

Joy in creation.  Joy lost in the Fall.  Joy regained piece by piece as the story of redemption unfolds.

Joy in the psalms, especially.  Rejoice!  My cup overflows!

And then joy restored as the Savior comes.

The angel said, “Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news of great joy.”

The Greek is literally, “mega chara.” Mega Joy!

Joy to the World.  The Lord is come.

Because of Christmas, because of the Incarnation, because Jesus has come, Christians have every reason to rejoice.

Good Christian Men (and Women and Boys and Girls, too!), Rejoice!

With heart and soul and voice!

Jesus Christ is born today.


The Bible says that joy is part of the fruit of the Spirit.

It’s number 2 in the list.

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy...” and so forth.

Joy is part of the normal experience of every Christian.

The Apostle Peter says, “In this you greatly rejoice...[You believe in Jesus and you] are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

Joy has come with Jesus and it’s better than regular old happiness.

Now, happiness is not bad.  And it’s not a bad word.

But joy is a better thing and a better word.

It’s deeper and fuller and richer and more meaningful.

Joy!  Joy!  Joy!

Joy to the World Right Now.

Because Jesus has been born, we have every reason to rejoice.

It was joy that led Jesus to the Cross.

Hebrews says, “For the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the Cross.”

Jesus’ joy in God, Jesus’ delightful satisfaction in His Father and what His Father would do for us in saving us eternally was enough to motivate Jesus to die on the Cross for our sins, taking our place.

Joy!  We have every reason to rejoice.

I think that joy is my favorite word when it comes to Christmas.

The close runners up are Love, Hope, Gift, and Peace.  I think some years they win over joy.

But joy is right there up at the top.

Joy because Jesus came.

Joy to the world right now.

Notice in our verse that the great joy comes from the good news.

“The angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”

It’s that good news about Jesus that brings us true and lasting joy.

Even in the middle of great trials and suffering.

Especially in the middle of great trials and suffering.

Happiness comes and goes, it burns off under the sun of suffering.

But joy can exist in the hardest of times, warm in the heart of those who have Jesus.

In fact, the Bible says that we are to have joy at those times when are suffering.

James says in chapter 1 of his letter, “Consider it pure [....what?] joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.”

Not that we love the trials.  But that we know that the trials will be used for God’s purposes in our lives, perfecting us.  And that’s worth rejocing in.

Everything is worth rejoicing in because Jesus came that first Christmas.

Our family, of course, has been grieving the loss of Heather’s mum.

And it hurts really bad. And it should!  Crying is the right thing to do when it hurts like this.

But Christians mourn differently, too.  We grieve in hope.

And a hope that doesn’t disappoint. We can both grieve and rejoice at the same time.

We miss Heather’s mum.  But we rejoice for her.

And we know that because Jesus came, we will see her again.

Because of Jesus, we have every reason to rejoice.

Good news of Great Joy to the World Right Now.

But this is not all that there is.


This angel was talking about Jesus’ first coming.  His first advent.

But Jesus didn’t bring all of the blessings of His kingdom right away.

First, He came, taught, lived a perfect life, died on the Cross, came back to life, and then ascended to His Father.

Promising to come AGAIN, a second time to bring JOY to the World in all of its fullness.

I don’t know about you, but the more Christmases I experience, the more I think, not about Jesus’ first coming, but about Jesus’ second coming.

That’s what Isaac Waats was thinking about when he wrote the hymn, “Joy to the World.”

If you turn to it in your hymnal (#125), you’ll see what I mean.

We often sing it at Christmas.  In fact, we’ve sung it every Sunday of Advent this year.

But it’s not really about Luke 2.

It’s about the return of Jesus and the joy that will come to the world when that happens.

Joy to the World! The Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing!

Can you imagine what that will be like?

Joy to the earth!  The Savior reigns.

Yes, there is a sense in which He reigns now.  All authority has been given to Jesus.

But His reign is contested now.  Someday soon, His reign will be universal and uncontested.

The Savior Reigns
Let Men Their Songs Employ!
While fields and floods, rock, hills, and plains repeat [what?]
The sounding joy!
Repeat the sounding joy!

All of nature is going to be happy.

Isaac Watts got this idea from Psalm 98.  He was making a hymn out of the thoughts of Psalm 98 transposed into a Christian key.

This is what Psalm 98 says:
“Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things;
his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.
The LORD has made his salvation known
and revealed his righteousness to the nations.
He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to the house of Israel;
all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music;
make music to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing,
with trumpets and the blast of the ram's horn–shout for joy before the LORD, the King.
Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. 
Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy;
let them sing before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.”
The world is personified as feeling the pains of the curse.

Romans 8 says that the creation groans and waits in eager expectation for the return of Christ.

But when Jesus returns, the whole world (not just His people!) will have great joy!

Verse 3

No more let sins and sorrows grow
Nor thorns infest the ground (The curse from Genesis 3)
He comes to make His blessings flow (where?)
Far as the curse is found, Far as the curse is found

That’s my favorite line in that song.

How far does the curse extend right now?

It gets down int our DNA, doesn’t it?

There is nowhere that is untouched by the curse.

Life is not as it should be.

Cancer, for example, is not the way it should be.

Death is not the way it should be!

But Jesus is going to reverse the curse someday soon.

Reverse the curse!

He will make His blessings known far as the curse is found.

He’s going to roll back the curse and make everything new.

Revelation 21

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. [Are you crying this Christmas?]

There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’

He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’

Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’

He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.’”

That’s “refresh with joy!”

Joy to the World, the whole world someday soon.

He rules the world with truth and grace
and makes the nations prove
the glories of his righteousness
and the wonders of His love.
The wonders of His love.

Brothers and sisters, we have every reason to rejoice.

And every reason to spread that joy.

Joy to the world in missions.

Let the nations be glad!
Let the nations rejoice!

Because there is good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

We need to live in expectation, anticipation of that joy.

And to share it with others.

I don’t have more to say than this.

Let this Christmas be a Christmas of JOY for those of us who know Jesus.

Joy to the World, the Lord Has Come!