Finding Great Joy
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. Luke 2:10
suggested further reading: Philippians 4:1–9
To relieve the fear of the shepherds, the angel declares that he was sent to them to announce the mercy of God. When people hear that God is reconciled to them, those who have fallen down are raised, and those who have been ruined are restored. They are, as it were, recalled from death to life.
The angel begins his message by saying that he announces great joy. Next he explains the reason for that joy: “a Savior is born.” Until we have peace with God and are reconciled to him through the grace of Christ, all the joy that we experience is deceitful and of short duration.
Ungodly men frequently indulge in frantic and intoxicating mirth, but if there is no one to make peace between them and God, the hidden stings of conscience can only produce fearful torment. Besides, to whatever extent they may flatter themselves in luxurious indulgence, their own lusts will provide more tormentors.
The beginning of solid joy is to perceive the fatherly love of God toward us, for that alone gives tranquility to our minds. As Paul says, “the kingdom of God” does not consist of eating and drinking but of joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17).
By promising “great joy,” the angel shows us that we ought, above all things, to rejoice in the salvation brought to us by Christ. This blessing is so great and boundless that it fully compensates for all the pains, distresses, and anxieties of the present life.
Let us learn to be so delighted with Christ alone that the perception of his grace may overcome us and at length remove from us all distresses of the flesh.
for meditation: When have you experienced the mercy of God? How did it raise you up and restore you? By contrast, when have you pursued worldly entertainment and possessions, thinking they will bring you joy, only to find that you are too soon anxious and dissatisfied? Look to Christ for the only joy that lasts.