Sermon – December 17, 2017

Advent 2017

Luke 1:11-17, 26-33, 46-55 – Joy (mp3)

There is much to be joyful in the world.  We live in a time of unknown prosperity; financially, technologically, medically.  We should have untold amounts of joy in our lives.  Yet, we instinctively realize that this is not the case.  We, like every culture and human that has come before us, taste of grief, loss, despair, and pain. Even as we know joy, we also feel its inevitable loss.  But we are to always remember that the coming of Christ was to bring unmerited and unspoiled joy to his people.  The message of the gospel is the message of a kingdom without end, filled with joy for the humble.

1. Need for Joy
Why do we need joy?  If God is so good, why does he not just fill us with happiness and joy?  Doesn’t this smack as a problem for Christians?  If God truly is a caring God, then why do not only those who deny him suffer, but also those who call upon him? The problem, however, lies not with God but with us.  Zechariah knew this well; the people had been exiled, and still awaiting their reunification with God.  John’s coming signaled this return, as he would return the hearts of the people to God by pointing directly to Jesus.  We likewise suffer in the same manner: separated from God, we live joylessly.  The return of God to his people signifies the return of true and lasting joy.

2. Cause for Joy
It is clear that the main cause of joy here is not the birth of John, but of Jesus.  The angel Gabriel makes this known to Mary: the kingdom of God is returning, your son will be the rightful King over all Israel, and indeed the world.  The return of the Kingdom is the return of God, the end of oppression, the provision for the poor, and joy for all.

3. Response of Joy
There is, then, but one response which is appropriate for such a joyous announcement: faith in humility.  We have caused our own loss of joy, our own suffering and grief.  We are unable to replace it, and must have it provided to us.  We are beggars, one and all, and must admit our inability to make ourselves joyful and united to God except through Christ.  That is why the Magnificat is so powerful: a young, humble woman with no social standing knows her blessing precisely because God gives joy to the humble and reduces the prideful to ashes.  Joy is found only in humility.

It is the honest and sincere prayer of Crossway Christian Church that you find joy and happiness this Christmas season.  But that joy should not be cheap; a shoddy facsimile the world that substitutes for the real joy of God.  Find joy, a pure, undefiled joy, in Christ alone.  He has come to give you precisely this; “I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete” (John 15:11).