I love many things about Christmas. I love Christmas decorations and trees and lights. I love the special Christmas foods we make and enjoy. I love the tradition of giving gifts. I love reading from the Bible of Jesus’ birth to my family. I especially love the music. I love Christmas music! In fact, I am listening to Christmas music as I write this. There is just something about listening to Christmas music and singing it that stirs my soul. Year after year it reminds me of the joy of Christmas. One of my favorite Christmas songs is “O Come All Ye Faithful” Here’s the first verse of this song:
O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant O come ye, o come ye to Bethlehem O come and behold Him, born the King of Angels
While we can’t go to Bethlehem to physically behold the baby Jesus, we are invited in this song to behold Jesus in our hearts and minds and to worship Him. And don’t miss the end of the first line, “joyful and triumphant” Christmas is the celebration of Jesus’ birth and this is something to be done joyfully and triumphantly!
In Luke 2:7-14 the joy of Christmas is obvious:
And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, 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, goodwill toward men!” ~ Luke 2:7-14
Don’t miss what the angel told the shepherds! “I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all the people.” The birth of a Savior is good news for a hurting and sinful world. The fact that we can be forgiven is good news! The fact that God loves us is good news! The fact that Jesus came to this world not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many is good news! The fact that Jesus died for us so that if we believe in Him, we can be forgiven and given eternal life is good news! The fact that Jesus rose from the dead is good news! The fact that He’s coming back is good news for those who are followers of Jesus! Because of this good news we can be joyful and triumphant. Christmas is a time to celebrate the good news that God loves us so much that He reached down to earth by sending His Son, Jesus to be our Savior. This is truly good news for all the people because anyone who believes in Jesus can be forgiven and become a follower of Jesus.
So, the greatest joy of Christmas is not the gifts under the tree, or the lights, or the Christmas food, or the decorations, or even time with friends and family. As great as all these things are, the greatest joy of Christmas is Jesus! He truly is at the center of it all. My hope is that as you and I celebrate Christmas we will keep Him at the center of it.
I know that there is pain for many as they struggle to feel joy at Christmas. Some struggle because of health issues, others have financial problems, others have the heartache of missing a loved one. I understand that it can be a painful time…I’ve been there, but if you find yourself struggling to feel the joy of Christmas, I hope that it is a comfort and encouragement to you to know that the true joy of Christmas is still true no matter what circumstances you are facing. Remember, this news of a Savior that angels told to shepherds was good news for ALL PEOPLE! That’s especially true for those who are hurting in some way.
So, I want to encourage you to enjoy Christmas! Make a big deal out of it! Celebrate the love of God which He displayed for us by so freely giving us His Son. As Isaac Watts put it, “Joy to the world! The Lord is come. Let earth receive her King! Let every heart prepare Him room...”