“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” Luke 2:10
I think of joy as very loud happiness. Joy is happiness on steroids. It is one thing to be happy; it is quite the other to be full of joy. Happy is a hand-held sparkler. Joy is a $25,000 twenty-minute fireworks show, synced to your favorite music. Happy is a Snoopy dance. Joy is a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest!”
But joy has another element to it. It is also deep, and for this reason, it can sometimes be quiet. Because it can also go deep, it doesn’t have to be loud all the time. Loud is when it bubbles up from below and overflows, but it can simmer just fine for long periods of time. That’s the kind of joy that can be present in your life even in the midst of sorrow, grieving and loss. That’s because it’s not attached to anything in your behavior or your circumstances. It’s always there, and it’s always true, because it has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with God.
And where does joy come from? That’s easy: joy is knowing, without a doubt, that you are saved — that your sins have been forgiven and you have been brought into the very presence of God where you can join the choir of angels singing. You’ve been ushered into eternity.
David, when he admitted to his sin, prayed, “Restore unto me the joy of my salvation.” Joy and salvation are always attached. Salvation up front; joy right behind. Joy is about sinners getting saved — about receiving freely what you know you could never earn.
The poor Pharisees knew nothing about joy, because they purported to having earned their salvation; but because they knew, deep-down, they were still sinners, they were never fully free to rejoice. They were always having to convince themselves of something that the sinner simply receives, and joins the choir.
Joy is knowing there is nothing you can do to earn your salvation, and nothing you can do to mess it up. It’s the astonishment of grace — receiving what you know you don’t deserve, but you’ll take it anyway and hope no one finds out that someone must have made a mistake when they picked you.
Joy is knowing down to the lowest part of your gut that you are saved.
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.
Jesus turned the curse around and batted it right out the door. Turn in your sin and join the choir today. “Cast out our sin and enter in; be born to us today.” Jesus came for this. This is Christmas. This is what all the lights and the singing are all about. Joy to the world! The Savior reigns! While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains repeat the sounding joy. Repeat the sounding joy. Repeat! Repeat … the sounding … JOY!