Summary: Christmas declares, “Joy to the world, the Lord has come.” God’s desire is that we would experience the good tidings of great joy proclaimed by the angels 2,000 years ago.
REDISCOVERING THE JOY OF CHRISTMAS
OPENING THOUGHT: Christmas… is it really the most wonderful time of the year?
• Many people find this season stressful and depressing!
ILLUSTRATION: Typical of last minute Christmas shoppers, a mother was running furiously from store to store. Suddenly she became aware that the pudgy little hand of her three year old son was no longer clutched in hers. In a panic she retraced her steps and found him standing with his little nose pressed flatly against a frosty window. He was gazing at a manger scene. Hearing his mother’s near hysterical call, he turned and shouted with innocent glee: "Look mommy! It’s Jesus - baby Jesus in the hay!" With obvious indifference to his joy and wonder, she impatiently jerked him away saying, "We don’t have time for that!"
“Wherever they look, there will be trouble and anguish and dark despair. They will be thrown out into the darkness.” (Isaiah 8:22, NLT).
• Isn’t this a picture of the world we’re living in today? Darkness, depression, despair?
“Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever… The people who walk in darkness will see a great light – a light that will shine on all who live in the land where death casts its shadow.” (Isaiah 9:1-2, NLT).
• That light is talking about the coming of Jesus 2,000 years ago! (see Matt. 4:12-16).
“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. And the government will rest on his shoulders. These will be his royal titles: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:1-6, NLT).
• Jesus is wonderful, counselor (knows how to help us), mighty (has the ability to help us), father (cares for his children) and peace (in the midst of our storms and darkness!).
JOY IN CHRISTMAS CAROLS:
• O holy night… A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices…
• Come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant, O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem
• Joy to the world! The Lord is come: Let earth receive her King.
THE BIG IDEA: Christmas declares, “Joy to the world, the Lord has come.” God’s desire is that we would experience the good tidings of great joy proclaimed by the angels 2,000 years ago.
JOY IN THE BIBLE: 650 times (joy, rejoice, rejoicing, glad, gladness, delight)
JOY IN THE CHRISTMAS STORY:
• Luke 1:14 – Zechariah was told by the angel, “You will have joy, and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.”
• Luke 1:44 – John the Baptist leaped for joy in his mother’s womb
• Luke 1:47 – Mary rejoiced in God her Saviour
• Luke 1:58 – they were rejoicing with Elizabeth
• Luke 2:10 – the angel proclaimed, “Glad tidings of GREAT JOY.”
A Sunday School was putting on a Christmas pageant which included the story of Mary and Joseph coming to the inn. One boy wanted so very much to be Joseph, but when the parts were handed out, a boy he didn’t like was given that part, and he was assigned to be the inn-keeper instead. He was pretty upset about this but he didn’t say anything to the director.
During all the rehearsals he thought what he might do the night of performance to get even with this rival who got to be Joseph. Finally, the night of the performance, Mary and Joseph came walking across the stage. They knocked on the door of the inn, and the inn-keeper opened the door and asked them gruffly what they wanted.
Joseph answered, "We’d like to have a room for the night." Suddenly the inn-keeper threw the door open wide and said, "Great, come on in and I’ll give you the best room in the house!"
For a few seconds poor little Joseph didn’t know what to do. Thinking quickly on his feet, he looked inside the door past the inn-keeper then said, "No wife of mine is going to stay in dump like this. Come on, Mary, let’s go to the barn." And once again the play was back on track!
“And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21).
“1 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. 6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 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!" 15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us." 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.” (Luke 2:1-20).