“He’s Got the Joy, Joy, Joy”
Advent 3, December 14, 2014
He’s Got the Joy, Joy, Joy
Text: Isaiah 61:1–4, 8–11
As we gather here today, about halfway between Thanksgiving and Christmas, what one word would describe your mood, your attitude, as you sit here this morning? For kids today it might be “Anticipation.” Or maybe “Obedience” as little folks try and move from one list to the other, if you know what I mean. Maybe the word you would choose is “Hectic” or “Chaos.” Maybe the word you would pick is “Broke” or “Bankruptcy.”
Our lessons today remind us an answer we should be giving is “Joy.” You may be here today thinking you are a Grinchy Scrooge, or a Scroogey Grinch, and that “Joy” would be among the last words you would pick. I get you. I understand.
When I was a kid I noticed my dad’s mood would go downhill this time of year. I didn’t know then but I know now that this is a time of year where the demands on our time and our routines are, well, demanding. When I was a kid, and all I had to do was keep a teacher happy and flip through the J. C. Penney Christmas Catalog with a coveting heart, I did not understand why anyone would be grumpy at a time of year when people were going to give me a lot of stuff! Now that I am older, wiser, busier, now I understand. And maybe you do, too.
But again, the Bible reminds us this is a time of joy. Where do you find joy? There’s a lot of places people find happiness around this time of year—in Christmas decorations, music, gifts, food, family, and friends. We sing “Joy to the World.” We look for joy in similar ways all through the year—in fun experiences, by acquisition of material things we like, in the company of people we like and who like us. But there’s a joy, a deeper joy, that really is only in the events we celebrate this month. You all need to know, By Proclaiming and Working Our Salvation, Jesus Christ Alone Gives Us True Joy.
As I have already discussed, it may be that as I speak and you listen here this morning, that Joy often escapes you. The same things that bring joy to some can lead someone else to the Grinchy Scroogy Grumpies. I would suggest that you know you might not be focused on real joy when at Christmas you define joy as the holiday “up” you have before the coming of the post holiday “January blues.” God is telling us today that if you just see this month as the time of year that comes before the credit card blues next month, you are not seeing the big picture.
I would suggest that you know you might not be focused on real joy when in your daily routine people or events make you frustrated or doubtful about God. If in all the chasing around: the stores, the parties, the cards, the cooking, the baking, the travel, in all that if you are just thinking of scheduling and inconvience and thinking you are glad you only see these people once a year (family, co-workers at the office party), you are not seeing the big picture.
Six hundred years before Jesus was born, God’s people of Judah severely lost joy when they were exiled in Babylon. The Babylonians empire came in and killed and plundered their way to a complete victory. Their homes and temple were destroyed, their friends and families killed. They thought as the children of Abraham that something like this could never happen to them no matter how little they worshipped or obeyed God. Turns out, this devastating defeat was their own fault for being attached to so many things other than the true God, Yahweh.
So let me ask you, if you find yourself today thinking “Joy ” is the last word you would use to describe yourself, if you find yourself suffering from the Grinchy Scroogy Grumpies, are you attached to things other than the true God, Yahweh? Is that why you are missing joy?
Well, I am here to tell you that Joy is restored in Jesus! And to be sure we are clear, I am not talking about “feeling happy.” That is a reaction to something: being given a cool present, being cooked a fine meal, watching Aaron Rodgers through another touchdown pass. Joy, as it is discussed in the Bible, is a decision. It is the recognition of how good God is to us, knowing everything good in our lives is from Him, and we are Saved by Jesus and the cross and the empty tomb and what He did for us.
Joy is restored in Jesus. Back to our text, the people of Judah were promised joy again. God would return them to their land (vv 4–5); they would again be His priestly people (v 6). Judah’s joy would come through the bringer of good news heard speaking at the start of this chapter (vv 1–3). And who was speaking at the beginning of our text here this morning?
The Messiah! Jesus! Isaiah 61 is a prediction of Jesus as the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One. The Spirit was seen on Him at His Baptism in the Jordan River (Jn 1:33). Jesus said He was the fulfillment of Isaiah 61 when He read this section of the Scriptures in the synagogue in Nazareth (Lk 4:16–21). Therefore we can conclude that Jesus Christ brings true joy—joy in, joy at, Christmas and always! (vv 1–2).
This joy comes when . . .
1. . . . good news is heard—as the Scriptures are echoing in your daily life.
2. . . . your brokenness is bandaged—your greatest pain caused by your sin is covered with the healing comfort of Jesus’ blood.
3. . . . captivity turns to freedom—Jesus Christ’s Spirit liberates you to live as God wants you to live.
4. . . . God’s favor is assured—the whole “year” of your life you have God’s loving acceptance by Jesus Christ’s righteousness done for you in your place. You have this 365 days a year, not just a couple of weeks in December.
5. . . . evil and death are conquered—there’s no greater feeling, no greater excitement than knowing and realizing God’s victory over this world’s greatest problem: our sins. And Jesus did that with His death and resurrection.
Now can you picture this joy (v 3)! Jesus Christ’s joy means . . .
1. . . . His wonderful grace covering repented sin—He took upon Himself the terrible grief of your eternal damnation.
2. . . . actual happiness instead of the sadness of this death-filled world—the same Spirit that’s upon Him gives you the blessings of love, joy, peace, and so on (Gal 5:22–23).
3. . . . stability and growth given from God—your joy is no longer contingent on earthly things! It is based on eternal, infinite and consistent things!
And one more thing, this “Jesus Joy” is spreading and real! Isaiah promises us that. The word translated here as “Offspring” in v 9 is literally “seed.” This word is used as a reference to Jesus in both the Old and New Testaments (Gal 3:16). Jesus Christ is “sown,” “planted,” “injected” in your joyful family and in other Christian relationships. Others now get to see Him as the source of your joy. And then it spreads around. And others see it in them. And then it spreads around. And so on. Because of the Holy Spirit this Joy is infectious! Contagious!
One more time, let me remind you that good feelings based on earthly things do not last. In fact, sinful and selfish pursuits often associated with those things and people and events cause the destruction of godly Joy and distraction away from godly Joy. At Christmas and always, your focus is to see and hear a voice producing true joy—the saving Words of Jesus!