To help prepare your heart for the worship of Christ this Christmas, we are re-posting by permission a wonderful 3-part study on “Joy” by our son-in-law, Ben Sadler. To read more about their ministry, visit their site – Chasing Ebenezer.
Joy – Part 1 by Ben Sadler
What would be good news to you today? For me?
In the book of Luke, a variety of characters receive good news in the midst of difficult circumstances.
At the time of Christ’s birth, Augustus, who was the emperor of Rome, called for a census of the people. For Jesus’ parents Joseph and Mary, this meant tax season. And not only was it time to register, but they would have to travel 80 miles in order to do so.
Meanwhile, a group of shepherds were in the fields tending their flocks of sheep. Due to the nature of their work, these men were often ceremonially unclean. They would work all hours of the day, and they could have been excluded from corporate worship.
In Jerusalem, a man named Simeon ingers in the temple, grieving over the condition of his country. Widowed for most of her life, Anna the prophetess also spends her days in the temple, praying and fasting.
What do you think would be good news for each of these people?
From my perspective, I could look at each one and come up with practical good news that I would want to hear if I were in their situation. It would seem logical that good news for Mary and Joseph would be the cancellation of taxes. Or possibly a car to drive to Bethlehem. A comfortable hotel room waiting for them. A good health plan with a clean hospital where Jesus could be delivered. This would seem like good news to me.
As a shepherd, good news would be a promotion, a chance to worship with family. If I were Simeon, the restoration of my country would be on the top of my list. And a husband for Anna would seem to be a source of joy.
Our society teaches that happiness is the absence of pain. So we seek joy in anything that allows us to escape. Some seek this through addictive behaviors like sex and drugs. Others pursue a more acceptable means of escape: possessions, success, power. Unfortunately like drugs, the high feeling dissipates and we are left with the pain.
And yet in the midst of all this pain, God’s good news is, “Unto you a Son has been born.” While many of the characters in the book of Luke would not live to see the ministry of Jesus on earth, they were filled with God’s joy because His very presence was with them.
True joy is found in the Presence of God, not the presents of men. It isn’t wrong to pursue joy. But we must remember that the source of all joy is in Jesus Christ alone.
Where are you seeking joy?