When the New Testament opens, there has been 400 years of prophetic silence. There had been no “Thus saith the Lord”, no prophet speaking, no preacher preaching, no new word from the Lord. Now, just because God was prophetically silent does not mean that He had been absent. God had continued to carry out His plan for the salvation of the world. It just means that He had been prophetically silent.
The silence was broken with this announcement, “Do not be afraid,; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10). The message from heaven was good news of great joy. Immanuel, God with us. Jesus, the eternal Son of God, was stepping out of eternity and into human history. In the fullness of God’s time, Jesus became a man. Salvation’s gift was wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a manger. This is good news of great joy.
The reason for joy is God’s presence in our lives. The fullness of joy comes from a deep sense of God’s presence in our lives. God’s presence does not erase the troubles or challenges; rather, it puts everything into perspective. The experience of joy is available to all who will believe. Even if Jesus were born in Bethlehem a thousand times but not within you, you would be eternally lost. Religious sentiment, even at Christmas time, without the living Christ is nothing more than a yellow brick road to eternal darkness. The response of joy is a changed life. Joy breeds obedience. Joy in the Christian life is in direct proportion as a Christian walks with the Lord. When a person walks closely with the Lord, the person can continue to rejoice even when troubles may come. Joy in the Lord enables a person to enjoy all that God has given him.
Joy is the life that is content and able to say, “Jesus is all I need.” Joy also produces a testimony. When God works in a person’s life, he should be ready and willing to share with others. The shepherds moved quickly to go and tell everyone what they had seen and heard. It is wrong to keep the good news of Jesus to oneself. The shepherds returned from the fields changed men. They had been in the presence of God and encountered the living Son of God – Jesus. Praise for God underlines acknowledgement of God’s presence and work in our lives. Praising God is therapeutic for the soul. Fanny Crosby was blinded at six weeks of age because of the negligence of a doctor. She never became bitter.
She is credited with writing more than seven thousand hymns. Her preacher once noted to her that it was a great pity that God did not give her sight yet He gave her so many other gifts. She replied, “This means the first face I’ll ever see will be that of my Savior.” Fanny Crosby died at age 95. Her headstone reads, “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine.” The message of Christmas is that the Savior of the world was born. He was born so that He could die in our place on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. That is good news of great joy! I would like to invite you and your family to join us for a Christmas Eve service on Thursday at 5pm at Centennial Baptist Church (5321 Brownwood Road, Rutledge).