They rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
That’s what Matthew told us about the wise men. Wouldn’t it be amazing to feel a joy well up inside of you that exceeds the greatest of joys? What’s even greater is that these men experienced that kind of joy in the midst of weariness and trouble.
I’m reminded of one of the most dangerous Christmases I experienced growing up – the time our family oven caught fire. To be specific, the pot holders that were in the oven drawer caught fire during the oven self-cleaning cycle. Smoke wafted through our home until it eventually reached our bedrooms. Our dog, who typically slept on my parents’ bed, wasn’t much help alerting us to the danger as she got down to hide under the bed. Mom and dad woke up, realized the danger, and once they figured out where the smoke was coming from ran to the kitchen. Dad grabbed something to help him pull out the hot oven drawer, then he opened the back door and flung the drawer and everything in it outside! With the smoldering pot holders outside and the immediate threat of the fire over, mom and dad helped me to wake up and go downstairs to sleep in the basement where the air was clearer. We had a family room down there, and that’s where the Christmas tree and all the presents were. I remember through the fog of late night sleepiness seeing a gigantic stocking (at least 3 feet long) filled with toys, candy and all manner of once-in-a-lifetime goodies. The danger aside, I realized that this year was my year to get the giant stocking. Talk about joy in a young kid’s heart! From the danger of the fire, to the joy of seeing such a huge display of dad and mom’s love for me – it was a night of danger that ended up leading to such joy.
Now, back to the wise men. They are the ones who start us off on this Sunday of advent thinking about joy that exceeds joy. What captivated their hearts? What delighted their eyes? They saw the star that had led them supernaturally once again appear. That star led them to Jesus, who by this time was no longer an infant in a manger but a young child at home with his mother. They fell down at the feet of Jesus and worshipped him, giving him gifts fit for a king. It’s really rather doubtful that these men knew the truth about Jesus being the God man sent to the earth to save us, but their actions are appropriate and demonstrate the right response for each of us today.
Whatever trial you face today, whatever hurt or difficulty you feel, purpose to seek the Lord Jesus Christ. Like those wise men from long ago, set your hearts on seeking Jesus and worshiping him for who he is. The joy you will experience will be so much greater than my childish joy in seeing that stocking. You will be with the One who loved you and gave himself up for you.
This week we will focus each day on joy. We need it, always, but particularly this advent season. While it’s easy to despair or be consumed with the trials, it’s hard to hold onto joy. The Lord knows that. He doesn’t expect us to pretend to be joyful although we really feel the pain of life. No, he calls us to come to him. He even uses all kinds of circumstances to lead us to him. Trust him today that he will lead you to experience the joy of his great heart, even when life is hard and joy is harder to hold onto.
Questions for today:
What is a time of great joy for you connected to Christmas?
In what circumstances have you experienced the joy of the Lord Jesus?