Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
That opening line from one of our best-known Christmas carols announces the good news that Jesus has invaded our broken world and has brought us joy.
The world has changed dramatically over the 700 years since Isaiah the prophet spoke to God’s people, but the human condition has not. The people of Isaiah’s day longed for relief from the pain and sorrow of life in a broken world, and so do we.
1 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
Isaiah 61:1-3 (NIV)
In these verses the Messiah speaks to His people, promising to replace their sorrow and mourning with joy and praise. Early in His ministry Jesus quoted from this passage and applied it to Himself, proclaiming that He was the One who fulfilled this promise (see Luke 4:16-21). Those who recognized Jesus as the Messiah found in Him the comfort and joy God had promised.
The carol Joy to the World continues, “Let earth receive her King; let every heart prepare Him room.” That’s the proclamation and call of Advent—receive your King; prepare room in your heart for Him. God will give joy to those who prepare their hearts and eagerly receive the gift of His Son. He has given us an incredible Christmas present; may we receive it and experience the joy He has in store for us.
Reflection and Discussion
- What do you think the phrase “let every heart prepare Him room” means?
- In what ways is your heart prepared for Christmas? How might your heart be better-prepared?
You’ve given us joy in Jesus! Thank You for that wonderful Christmas present. You knew our need even better than we did, and You did something about it—You gave us Your Son. Enable us to prepare our hearts to receive our King. As we do, may we experience the joy that He has brought; and may our hearts overflow so that we will share that joy with others.