Summary: The message of Advent and the birth of Jesus are about joy. Joy is not found in gifts but in the Person, Jesus Christ.
Good News of Great Joy
One of my favorite Christmas Carols is “Joy to the World, the Lord has come.”
The message of Advent and the birth of Jesus are about joy. The angel announced to the shepherds: “I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! The Savior, yes, the Messiah the Lord, has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David.” Luke 2:10-11
At the end of our Christmas Pageant I mention a time in my life that I experience the joy of Christmas. When I was in the 4th grade I fell through ice when walking across a small creek in Gypsum. I had pneumonia and eventually the pneumonia and in my weakened physical condition I developed Septicemia, a blood infection. After 300 penicillin shots and nearly a month in the hospital in Salina, KS I was not getting well.
My first contact with the Free Methodist Church took place when a couple from the Salina FMC was visiting in the hospital and stopped in to see me on a Wednesday. That night at their church prayer meeting they had special prayer for me. The next day the doctor was amazed that I had taken a drastic turn toward health. My high fever broke and I went home several days later.
To a fourth grader going home was a joy, but an even greater joy happened when my doctor gave me a Christmas Catalogue and told me I could pick any toy out of the catalogue and he’d order it for me. I searched the catalogue. My mother I’m sure was hoping would pick a bicycle or some other major toy. I picked an army rifle. It was a special automatic rifle.
My interest in the rifle lasted a year or so, but my gratitude for the prayer of the people in Salina who hardly knew me has lasted over the years. Their visit brought me great news of great joy.
From the first announcement by the angel that the birth of Jesus is about great news of great joy, joy has been the hallmark of the Christian Faith.
Christmas is all about the birth of Jesus and what Jesus brings to all who believe in him and receive him. The birth of Jesus was a historical event. The birth of Jesus changed the way people experience forgiveness of sin. No longer did they have to take a lamb, bull or doves to the temple to sacrifice for their sins. Jesus came to forgive all who believed in him and received him.
I. Jesus Brings Salvation
Matthew 1:18-21, Matthew gives the account of the birth of Jesus. Joseph was engaged to Mary. Mary was a virgin but became pregnant by the Holy Spirit before they were married. But, Joseph a righteous and just man decided to break the engagement quietly so Mary would not be disgraced publicly. An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him “do not be afraid to go ahead with you marriage. For the child within her has been conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
The birth of Jesus was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Isaiah 7:14, “The Lord himself will choose the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel – ‘God is with us.’” In the birth of Jesus God became one of us as a human person, a God-man.
Biblical history from Genesis through Malachi was foretelling the coming of the Messiah. Jesus taught that the Old Testament scriptures stated the truths of His coming and mission.
Following the arrest, trial, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, Jesus appeared to two disciples walking to Emmaus. The disciples were depressed and filled with gloom. They had hoped Jesus was their Messiah and would deliver Israel from the oppression of Rome, but their hopes were crushed when Jesus was crucified.
As they walked along the road, Jesus the stranger became their instructor. Jesus asked them why they found it “so hard to believe what the prophets said in the scriptures. The prophets predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his time of glory.” Luke 24:25-26
Just as the Old Testament prophets prepared Israel for the coming of the Messiah the New Testament writers have prepared us for the second coming of Jesus. At His second coming Jesus will give deliverance to all His followers from the domination of Satan and unrighteousness on earth. Jesus will reign as King of kings and Lord of lords. Revelation 19:6, 16
The message of salvation is good news to all who believe and accept Jesus. The message of salvation that brings forgiveness is good news to all who are living under the weight and burden of guilt.