The advent wreath lies invitingly on your dining room table. It’s time to light the third candle that represents joy. Joy? You might be thinking, “Yeah right. I can’t remember the last time I felt truly joyful during the Christmas season.” You’re not alone. Many of us struggle through the season feeling more like Scrooge than we’d care to admit. J-O-Y seems out of reach.
We’re reminded in Luke 2:8-14 of the story familiar to many of us when the shepherds heard the voices of angels. Amazingly, the focus of the story isn’t that men saw and heard from heavenly beings; the angels’ message itself is what is of utmost importance. The text says:
8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
Those words contain wonders for our minds to puzzle over and our hearts to treasure. The angels’ proclamation prompts us to rejoice. Why? Not for any mundane, earth-bound “Let’s-all-just-be-happy” reason, but because FOR YOU a Savior has been born. This angelic announcement is personal. No matter what your life story, no matter where you stand in history, Jesus Christ’s birth is meant to personally affect you.
He was born for you. You had a need that only He could fulfill. He was born for your sake. What need was so great that God Himself would come to earth and take on flesh?
Romans 3:23 explains it, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The Bible says in Romans 3:10-11 that, “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God.” Good news! In the midst of all that sinning, falling short, and not seeking God, He sought us out. He sent His Son as a baby who would grow to be the Man of Sorrows, the Lamb of God, who takes away all our sin.
J. C. Ryle says it quite eloquently in his book "Old Paths," “He that thinks lightly of man’s need and man’s sin, would do well to consider man’s Savior. Sin must indeed be exceedingly sinful, when the Father must needs give His only Son to be the sinner’s friend!
We were in a world of hurt, so God intervened. That’s good news. And that good news could bring you great joy—if Jesus Christ is your Savior. If you don’t know Him yet, don’t wait. Today can be the beginning of good news that brings great joy because you have been saved from the wrath of God because of your sins—all because you turned to Jesus in faith and accepted that free gift of His dying in your place on the cross. For you.
The good news is repeated for us in Luke 1:68, “He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people.” Verses 74-75 point out more good news, Jesus came to earth “to grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.” The good news means we can have assurance of salvation, living in His presence without fear.
You might be struggling for joy because of trying circumstances and great sorrows, yet joy is possible. Good news leads to great joy when we remember the hope and exhilaration that forgiveness of all our sins, fellowship with the Eternal God, and the hope of heaven can bring. Joy isn’t out of reach. Joy just needs to be uncovered so it can be recovered.
As you light the third candle of advent literally or mentally, spend some time thinking about Luke 1:68 and verse 74-75 along with Luke 2:8-14 and remember:
Good news. Great joy. A Savior. For you.