Phil Cox

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Great joy

20th December 2008

As we saw last time, an angel appeared to the shepherds on the nght that Jesus was born, saying "I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." He then said:

Luke 2v12
This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

This was hard for the shepherds to understand. Christ the Lord Ė the Messiah that had long been prophesied Ė was not expected to be wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger! (A manger was an animalís feeding through). Itís hard to believe that Godís Anointed One would be born so humbly.

But part of the good news of great joy is that fact that God the Son can identify with us in our problems. He knows about poverty, and rejection, and the insults that can come to the illegitimate, and the frustration of living in an occupied country. Jesus was born in a stable, He was refugee when still a baby, he was alone in the desert for 40 days, and he was falsely charged and executed.

Verses 13-14
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests."

The angels were full of joy. In the birth of Jesus, God was glorified and peace was offered to all people. The angels were so full of joy about this good news that they appeared to the shepherds, praising God on the hillside.

And, dear Christian brother or sister, let me ask: Are you full of joy?

We can be so weighed down with cares and worries that we forget that God has sent Jesus to us. The everyday stuff of life can rob us of the joy of our salvation. In the parable of the sower, Jesus said:

Matthew 13v22
The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.

Letís return with our whole hearts to Jesus Christ. Letís get our priorities right. Let's rejoice, that is, celebrate, the good news of Glory to God and peace to men. And let's resolve to give our lives in service to God's glory and man's peace. As the old song has it:

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the world, the Saviour reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

And, non-Christian friend, if you haven't heard this good news before, or if you've heard it but never taken it seriously, then let me say that it's not too late. You too can find the peace of God. You too can have your heart transformed so that you can celebrate the good news of great joy. The angel said it's for all the people - including you!