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Third Advent Sunday: Christ is our Joy

Luke 2:9-11 say, "And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before (the shepherds), and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the ange said to them, 'Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.'"

On the third Sunday of Advent, the traditional candle which would be lit is called "The Shepherd's Candle" and represents joy. There is joy that our Savior, Jesus Christ, has come. This is indeed good news of great joy for all people.

Joy surrounded the events of the birth of Christ. When Mary visited Elizabeth, Elizabeth said, "the babe leaped in my womb for joy" (Luke 1:44). Mary then artfully proclaimed, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior" (Luke 1:46-47). Later, when the Wise Men came with their gifts, they saw the star leading them to the place where Jesus was, and "rejoiced with exceeding great joy" (Matthew 2:10).

There is obvious joy whenever a baby is born. I remember when we found out that we were going to have twins. My heart leaked out of my eyes because of the great joy of the double blessing God had given to us. However, the joy that was expressed at the birth of Jesus went beyond the normal joy of a pregnancy and birth of a child.

The joy was focused on who was born. This was the incarnate Son of God! He came to fulfill Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah. He came to reveal God to man. He came to redeem people from their sins.

The Shepherds were given this good news consisting of great joy. The great joy is focused on the person of Jesus Christ.

Where is our joy focused? Joy seems to be a deeper affection of the heart than merely a giddiness, or emotional feeling of elation. Joy is an underlying satisfaction in Christ, even when the circumstances around us are not the most enjoyable or thrilling. True joy is a gift of the Holy Spirit of Christ, given only to those who have been redeemed by Christ. It cannot be humanly manufactured by us.

For the Christian, there is joy in the reality of our salvation. There is joy in our position and standing before God in Christ. There is joy in the knowledge of forgiveness of sin and eternal life in Christ. No matter what happens to the Christian, those truths cannot be taken away from us. Do you have that kind of joy?

There will be great joy when our Savior returns as well. Isaac Watts, in reflecting upon Psalm 98, wrote the hymn text "Joy to the World, the Lord is Come." This hymn primarily deals with the second advent, rather than the first. Whether we speak of the first or the second advent, Jesus Christ is the source of our joy.

May our spirits rejoice in Christ our Savior!

Good Christian Men, Rejoice
Text: Latin Carol, 14th century

Good Christian men, rejoice with heart and soul and voice!
Give ye heed to what we say: News! News! Jesus Christ is born today!
Ox and ass before Him bow, and He is in the manger now.
Christ is born today! Christ is born today!

Good Christian men, rejoice with heart and soul and voice!
Now ye hear of endless bliss: Joy! Joy! Jesus Christ was born for this!
He has opened heaven's door, and man is blest forevermore.
Christ was born for this! Christ was born for this!

Good Christian men, rejoice with heart and soul and voice!
Now ye need not fear the grave: Peace! Peace! Jesus Christ was born to save!
Calls you one and calls you all to gain His everlasting hall.
Christ was born to save! Christ was born to save!


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