Fullerton Free Advent Devotional Dec. 3
When have you been happiest in your life? What events have sparked the most enthusiasm? Have you ever been overwhelmed by gladness? The word joy is very much associated with Christmas and Christianity. In fact, the joy of the holiday is usually very contagious. When the wisemen saw the star in the sky the Bible says they had exceedingly great joy. They had travelled a long way to see what the star would show them.
When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. (Matt. 2:10)
The shepherds were given the most joyful news which was even shared with them in the most astounding way in the still of the night.
And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. (Luke 2:10)
Jesus tells us that he came to give us abundant joy.
These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:11)
Peter reinforces that the joy from Jesus is inexpressible! Not just joy, although that is a good thing, but hopeful, grace-filled, redemptive and complete and overflowing joy!
Though you have not seen him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:8.9)
One day over 2000 years ago the Happiest Being took on flesh and lived among us. God, a God of joy, through the miracle of the Incarnation, was made visible to us. He came bringing unbelievable gifts including grace, peace, justice, love, truth and eternal happiness! Jesus Himself was filled with the Spirit with rapturous joy (John 10:21) Though known as the man of sorrows, Jesus had known boundless joy since before time began. He knew that the basis of sorrow is temporary but that joy is permanent when He endured the cross for the joy set before Him! (Heb. 12:2).
What does it mean to have exceeding great joy? What does it look like to be overwhelmed with joy and happiness? The wisemen knew that God was on the move as they watched the stars align in the sky. They were paying attention to a faithful promise-keeping God and in what is arguably the greatest moment of their lives their response was to worship with exceeding great joy. The shepherds returned rejoicing and glorifying God over what they had experienced.
I imagine that they were more excited than any gift ever received. They were more joyful than when the Chicago Cubs won the World Series after a 108 year drought. They were more expressive than all the people who have ever won something large or small. Can you imagine the perpetual joy that is coming for each of us?!
The psalmist tells us that in the Lord’s presence is fullness of Joy (Ps. 16:11) Jesus is Emmanuel – God with us. That is exceedingly great joy!
May we experience such extraordinary joy as we journey to the manger, peer into the empty tomb and watch the skies, like the wisemen did, for the return of the King! And may we respond in worship with exceedingly great joy!