Summary: Series of 9 Sermons for the Advent season. This is sermon 2 of 9
Midweek Advent Service December 4, 2002
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Be Prepared for Christ’s Coming With Joy
I. Joy centered in the Savior
II. Joy reflected in our lives
Fellow Christians preparing to celebrate the Savior’s birth:
Tonight’s fruit of the Spirit that gets our attention is JOY. Joy is right at the heart of what Christmas means. But, try as hard as we might, we have a hard time getting a handle on the meaning of that word today. We understand “fun.” “Happy” we have no problem with. “Party” (as a verb) is commonly used. But joy? What’s that?
True joy, the kind Christmas Is supposed to be about, is a much deeper experience than “fun,” and rejoicing has little in common with “partying.” It is something special, something out of the ordinary. You may spend all day In Disney World; you may have no end of fun, but chances are you won’t rejoice or know true joy as a result.
To rejoice means to be at peace in the knowledge that, at all times and in all places, God loves you and that you are his own dearly loved child through faith In Christ. True joy—Christian joy—is present even when a person knows death is near, because he sees with the eyes of faith beyond death to the mystery of eternal life.
The great news of Christmas is that we can look forward with joy because of the birth of our Savior. We can look forward with a joy that depends, not on the immediate surroundings, but on God’s grace that helps us through this life’s difficulties to the next life’s eternal pleasures. All this is possible because of our Savior’s birth. And so, tonight we are to BE PREPARED FOR CHRIST’S COMING WITH JOY.
I. Joy centered in the Savior.
Before focusing on our own joy as a fruit of the Spirit, we need to recall the joy that was present during the first Christmas. Consider first of all the Savior’s mother. Mary heard from the angel, Gabriel that she would give birth to the promised Savior. This would be a miraculous, virgin birth.
Mary must have sensed the difficulties that confronted her as an unwed mother. How could she possibly begin to explain to Joseph and to others what was going on? In her society she could have even been put to death as an adulterous woman. Even in today’s rather permissive society, an unmarried woman often doesn’t find much happiness in finding out that she is pregnant.
But we are told that Mary rejoiced. In her song from Luke chapter 1 we hear her words “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46, 47). She was filled with true Christmas joy. It was not that being unmarried and pregnant made her happy. It was not going to be a fun nine months. And at the end of the nine months it wouldn’t be fun to wander homeless with Joseph throughout Bethlehem looking for a room in which she could have her baby. It wouldn’t be fun to be so poor that her new baby could only be wrapped in swaddling clothes—rags—and placed in a feed-trough for animals as his crib. Yet she was joyful, because her joy was deeper than those difficult circumstances.
Mary rejoiced because she knew that God chose her to be a part of bringing the Savior into the world. All mothers have high hopes for the futures of their children. Mary’s joy wasn’t based upon any human hope. It was based upon God-given certainty. She knew that her child would do what was necessary for saving the world from sin, death, and the power of the devil. She rejoiced because she knew that Jesus wasn’t just her son. He was God’s Son, the Savior whom God had promised who would take away the sin of the world, would take away the punishment that all, including Mary, deserved as sinners. Poverty, ridicule, shame—these and all other negatives gave way to joy for Mary as her son, her Savior, was born.
And let’s not forget Joseph as we think about Mary’s joy. He, too, must have shared in this Joy on that first Christmas. He, too, was told by an angel in a dream that Mary’s child would be the Savior of the world. Even though that child wasn’t his own flesh and blood, when he saw Jesus for the first time, he must have had more joy at being present for that birth than any father who views his own child for the first time. He knew that this child would make it possible for him and for all to inherit eternal life In heaven. His joy over this birth silenced any fears that he might have had as he faced a new life with a wife and child.