The Birth of JOY
The much-anticipated birth of the Redeemer of all humanity had finally come (Isaiah 9:6, Micah 5:2). On that night in crowded Bethlehem, Mary gave birth to joy. And that joy had a name; He is Jesus Christ the Lord. The very Creator and Author of creation as we know it, stepped down from His eternal throne in order to complete a task that we could never shoulder the weight of (Isaiah 53:5). The very essence of perfection, God in the flesh, would one day take upon Himself the depraved, twisted and otherwise evil things committed by all of humanity (1 John 4:9). There was great joy and rejoicing in the heavenlies as well as on earth seeing as redemption had finally come (Luke 2:14). Jesus the Christ would make it possible for every man, woman, boy and girl to have right standing before Almighty God through His life, death and resurrection on the third day (John 3:16). But our victorious ransom from destructive living and eternal condemnation would never have been possible, within the birth of His joy.
The Bible tells us that humanity lost right standing with God when disbelief and disobedience of Eve and Adam entered into the perfect reality of Eden (Genesis 3:1-7). Humanity was handed perfection by God, but the devil was able to sprout discontent within their hearts. By creating just enough doubt into what God had told them, both Even and later Adam, would reject the freedoms given them as they deliberately defied the Almighty God. How does this tie into a manger and borrowed stable generations later? You may be asking. Well, due to sin and disobedience now entering the story of humanity, the right standing with God was lost, and they could no longer stay in that sincerely perfect place (Genesis 3:24).
Because God is so loving and deeply compassionate, He did not throw humanity away due to the deep stains of sin and rebellion committed by both man and woman against Himself. No, because of His great love and sincere joy, He launched a search and rescue mission that would encompass every heart and soul around the globe—and the shock waves of this rescue would be felt—for all time. You see, even before Jesus Christ was born, the Bible speaks time and time again, through prophesies, of the intricate details of Jesus Christ’s coming; the city of Jesus’ birth (Micah 5:2), His lineage (Isaiah 9:6-7, Isaiah 11:1, Jeremiah 23:5), His suffering (Psalm 2:2 & Isaiah 53:2-4), His purpose (Psalm 45:7, Isaiah 6:7, Isaiah 52:9 & Isaiah 53:5-6) and His victory for our benefit (Psalm 103:12, Isaiah 1:18, Isaiah 43:25, Isaiah 44:22 & Micah 7:18). Thus, when the magi, trained and expert astronomers and astrologers of their day, saw the star, they knew which prophesies were being triggered and set out to take part in the quest of a lifetime. Yet, it was not merely the educated whom God allowed to be eyewitnesses to this prophesied birth of the Messiah. Angels appeared to mere shepherds whom were out in the nearby fields of Bethlehem with their sheep to share in this celestial celebration.
“And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “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. “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” Luke 2:9-14 (NASB)
The moment all of creation had been awaiting since the fall of humanity within the Garden of Eden, the One whom would set right the wrongs committed by both man and woman, was now here! The Creator of all things, the Beginning and the End, the Wonderful Counselor, the Prince of Peace, the God-Man Himself had stepped down from His eternal and heavenly throne in order to reconcile all of mankind back to Father God! For this reason, Jesus is referred to as the Second Adam, as He offers a fresh start for all who put their hope, trust and eternal security in Him (1 Corinthians 15:45). This was indeed the birth of JOY!
Yet, not all were excited for the birth of this “King of the Jews”. As the Magi had come from the East to pay their respects to the newborn king, as was foretold by the unusual star, they headed first to Jerusalem to speak with the King of Israel, King Herod (Matthew 2:2). All of Jerusalem was concerned as to what this could mean, and King Herod called a secret meeting of the top religious leaders to make sense of the prophecies of old, which these magi spoke of. They referenced the ancient text of Micah 5:2.
“And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah: because out of you will come a leader who will shepherd My people Israel.” Matthew 2:6 (HCSB)
Upon hearing of this arrival of the “King of the Jews”, Herod then held a secret meeting with the magi in order to learn of the exact time they first spotted the star in the East. A homicidal jealousy had been ignited within Herod’s heart and he would not rest until this threat to his own title as King of the Jews, was officially murdered.
“He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. When you find Him, report back to me so that I too can go and worship Him.” After hearing the king, they went on their way. And there it was–the star they had seen in the east! It led them until it came and stopped above the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed beyond measure.” Matthew 2:8-10 (HCSB)
The craftiness of man could not outwit the rescue plan of God Himself. In a dream, God Himself warns the Magi to return to their homelands without speaking to Herod (Matthew 2:12). In his rage for being outmaneuvered, King Herod carries out genocide of his own people for all baby boys in the vicinity of Bethlehem for all male children under two years of age. Yet, God had provided rescue for the Christ Child yet again, as the angel of the Lord told Joseph to get up in the night and take Mary and her Child to Egypt, and remain their until they were told further from the angel; seeing as Herod will search for Jesus to kill Him (Matthew 2:13). Joseph obeyed and the three of them escaped to Egypt by night and remained in Egypt until the angel of the Lord appeared again and announced the death of Herod (Matthew 2:19-23). At that time, Joseph returns to Israel (specifically, Nazareth) with Mary and young Jesus, where Jesus would grow in wisdom and stature as the favor of God Almighty rested upon Him (Luke 2:52). This was the fulfillment of the prophesy of Hosea.
“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son.” Hosea 11:1 (HCSB)
This Christmas season, take time to step away from the noise and flashing lights, and quiet yourself before Almighty God in gratitude. Realize how truly loved you are by the Creator of all things. Regardless of your relationship status, regardless of how many holiday parties you attend, regardless of who gives you what gift, relish in this unchanging truth: you have been given the greatest gift of all by God Himself. Your life is so precious to God Almighty that He allowed His own Son, Jesus Christ, to enter into this world as a babe and later die on a brutal cross so that you may live eternally through Jesus. Your life is worth saving, rescuing and power washing by the power of the living God. Every Christmas and Easter are like love notes from God Himself…you are treasured and valued beyond measure. This Christmas season may we be marked by exceeding joy! As we recall the birth of joy, Jesus Christ, by name.