If there is a single word that describes what Christmas is all about, it’s the little word “joy.” Several of our favorite carols mention it: “Joy to the world, the Lord is come,” “O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,” “Shepherds, why this jubilee, why your joyous strains prolong?” “Good Christian men, rejoice, with heart and soul and voice,” “Joyful all ye nations rise, join the triumph of the skies, with th’ angelic host proclaim, ‘Christ is born in Bethlehem.’”
Where does Christmas joy come from? If you are looking for Christmas joy this year, I suggest that you can find all you need in Luke 2:8-11.
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:8-11)
From this familiar story, I suggest 4 things that will bring you joy…
1. God Keeps His Promises.
Notice the simple phrase—”born this day in the city of David.” The city of David is not Jerusalem—it’s Bethlehem, which is about 5 miles south of Jerusalem. Seven hundred earlier the Lord had spoken through the prophet Micah (5:2) and declared that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.
So when we read “city of David” we should remember that Jesus was born in fulfillment of a prophecy made 700 years earlier. It should also remind us that always keeps His promises. He has promised eternal life to all who believe and receive Jesus Christ as Savior (John 1:12). He promised that all things work together for God for those who love Him and are called by Him (Romans 8:28). No matter how bad it gets, it’s going to be okay.
2. Jesus Really Understands You.
The angel said, “Unto you is born this day in the city of David.” Focus on the three words—”born this day.” They speak to the fact that what happened in Bethlehem was nothing less than the birth of a baby named Jesus Christ.
Even though we often speak of the virgin birth of Christ, it’s important to remember that the real miracle took place nine months earlier when the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary with the result that although she was a virgin, she became pregnant. That was an enormous miracle which has never been repeated in the history of the world. However, from that point on Mary’s pregnancy followed the normal course of all human pregnancies leading to the momentous night in Bethlehem when she gave birth to the Lord Jesus in a stable.
So I hope you realize that when Jesus was born He knew what it was like to be human. He knows what it’s like to be hungry, thirsty, tired, and tempted. He knows what it is like to be you. He even knows the full force of tempation, though He never gave in. You can have joy in every circumstance because Jesus understands you.
3. Jesus is Savior, Christ, Lord.
Now we come to the climax of this verse: “A Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” Each word is vitally important.
Savior is actually an Old Testament word that means “One who delivers his people.” We desperately need a Savior, don’t we? When the angel announced the birth of Jesus to Joseph, he said, “Give him the name Jesus for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
He came to be Lord or ruler of the universe. Today he is the Lord of heaven. One day He will return and set up His kingdom on the earth. Between now and then we Christians are called to make him Lord of our lives on a daily basis. That means surrendering your will to him and letting him lead the way.
He is the Christ—the one sent from God. Christ means ‘anointed One.’ Jesus is God in human form.
This is the heart of Christmas. God loved us enough to send his only begotten Son. Think of it this way: He didn’t send a committee. He didn’t write a book. He didn’t send a substitute. No, when God got ready to save the world, He sent the best that He had—His one and only Son. And in sending Jesus, he was really sending Himself. This is the stupendous truth of Christmas—Immanuel—God with us. That should give you joy.
4. Salvation for All
The Christmas story contains one final truth —”For unto you is born this day in the city of David.” Pause for a moment and consider who was speaking and who was being addressed. When the shepherds heard these words from the angel, they must have been flabbergasted. We tend to overlook the fact that shepherds were near the bottom of the social order of ancient Israel. So when the angel says, “To you is born,” he’s really saying, “Christ came for lowly shepherds.”
When Christ came, his birth was first announced to the outcasts of society. They were the first ones to hear the good news of Christmas. There is a great lesson in this for all of us. Our Lord came for the forgotten people of the earth and most of the time they are the ones who receive him with the greatest joy. Rich people often have no time for Christ, but the poor welcome him as an honored guest. He came for you.
This is where Christmas becomes intensely personal. It’s not enough to say that you believe Christ came. Millions of people say that and are still lost in their sins. It’s not enough to say that Christ came for someone else.
You can never be saved until you say, “Christ came for me. He died for me. He rose from the dead for me.” Joy to the world, the Lord is come.
Or you can read more Gifts of Christmas.