“Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.”
“And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
“The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.”
“And I, when I am lifted up, will draw all people to myself.”
All people. All people have a reason to rejoice, to hope. The good news of great joy, brought so long ago, still resounds through the ages for each one of us. That news, that joy still applies. It still has power to save and to change our lives forever.
Not just for those who fit a certain mold or pedigree, but for all who believe in Jesus Christ.
A Savior has been born to us. A Savior who lived a perfect life, not only perfect in obedience to the law, but perfect in compassion and in reaching out to connect with and save the outcasts, the sinners, the poor and weary. A Savior who determined to walk each step to the cross, knowing what He would face as He fought for and won our redemption.
It is because of the cross that we can rejoice in the way the 100th psalm expresses – because we can come into the very presence of the Lord! With singing and heartfelt gladness, not with fear or uncertainty, for we know we are welcomed there. We find belonging there. A joy and fullness that fills our hearts and makes us whole. A hope that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, for we have been sealed and secured forever with the Spirit of God given to each of those who choose Him (1 Peter 1:3-4; Ephesians 1:13-14).
The great joy of which the angel spoke on the night Jesus was born is captured well in these next words from Isaiah. Moving from an apparent hopeless, unrelenting darkness to the light that is able to break through it. May this stir our hearts anew with the wonder of the hope we find in Christ and the way He can change everything for us – for any who will call upon His name for mercy, for deliverance, for hope, for salvation. He is mighty to save…no matter how far away someone feels. His hand, His light, can still reach over that distance in steadfast love and faithful, matchless power.
“If [the people] will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn.
They will pass through the land, greatly distressed and hungry. And when they are hungry, they will be enraged
and will speak contemptuously against their king and their God, and turn their faces upward.
And they will look to the earth, but behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish.
And they will be thrust into thick darkness.
But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish….in the latter time he has made glorious
the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shined….
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it…He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,
who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
John 1:4-5, 11-13