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Advent Week 3

By Jesse Packard
December 26, 2017

Advent Candle #3: Joy

Today we light the joy candle. As we prepare our hearts for Jesus’ coming during this advent season, we carry the hope of the change that Jesus has brought with us into the world, and we bear a message of great joy.

Joy is something that is hard to define. It is an emotion, but the Bible teaches that true joy is never ending while emotion fades. It is a good feeling, but it is more than happiness. Joy persists through pain and suffering, joy continues. Joy lasts.

In the story of Jesus’ birth in scripture, we see three specific examples of people who were filled with joy. These three groups of people, a baby, shepherds, and wise men, have little in common except for one defining feature in their lives. They all had an encounter with Jesus that brought them great joy.

Let’s look a little more closely at one of those stories. The story of a group of shepherds in a field. Those shepherds were watching their flocks at night. They were probably tired. They probably felt the same myriad of emotions we feel, coupled with the ever present Jewish despair of Roman rule and hope of the promised savior. They weren’t expecting their lives to change that night. But then the angel showed up, and the glory of God shone all around them. The book of Luke tells us that the shepherds felt great fear when this happened. Understandable. They lived in a time when the unknown was dangerous, when the only supernatural experiences they had ever heard of were old stories. Fear is an appropriate response in this moment, but the angel quickly tells them to fear not.

The angel says that it brings good news of great joy. Great joy. In the face of the shepherds fear, the angel tells them that its message is one of great joy. The literal greek wording here is that the angel brings the gospel of great joy. The Savior is born, Christ the Lord. These three words are the fulfilment of every bit of hope that these shepherds had grown up with. They had waited all of their lives for a savior, and now he was here. They had been taught that the Christ was coming, and he was here. They had been waiting for their Lord to speak to them for centuries, and now He was ACTUALLY HERE.

With this, the most incredible and important announcement that has ever been, the world around the shepherds exploded into angels and song. A multitude of heavenly beings surrounded the shepherds praising God, proclaiming glory to God and that peace had come to earth. The shepherds went and found Jesus and they glorified and praised God.

These shepherds walked away from their experience with the glory of God in human flesh with joy. We too can experience joy from an encounter with Jesus. He was not just the answer to what the ancient Israelites sought, He is the answer to what all of us seek. He is our savior, Christ, and Lord. He brings peace on earth.

Church, we need to remember that we now carry the same message that the angel carried to the Shepherds that night. We carry the gospel, the good news of great joy, and it is for all the people. It is our job to share that message with all of the people, and it is good news. Joy is ours, and we can share it with the world when we help them experience the glory of God in Jesus Christ as we share the gospel with them.