Joy to You and MeLuke 2:8-20Theme: Rejoicing in the promise.This week’s lessons teach us that true joy is found in Christ alone.
LessonMary’s joy was certainly great. Later in his ministry, the Lord Jesus Christ would speak of childbirth, and he would say that a woman, though she experiences great pain in childbirth, nevertheless forgets it and rejoices once the child is born. If that is true of nearly any child, as no doubt it is, it was certainly true in the case of the birth of Jesus Christ because this was no mere baby. If he had been, Mary would have been joyful. But this was no mere baby; this was the Savior. This is the one who had been announced to her by the angel, the one miraculously born. And so Mary’s joy certainly exceeded the joy of the others. If we want to put an adjective with it, I would say that her joy was a profound joy because Mary was a deep and godly woman. The story tells us that Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
What about Joseph? Joseph is the forgotten person of the story. People often focus on the child – and rightly so – and to some extent on Mary. Joseph is somehow left out, but he had joy as well. A father rejoices at the birth of a child. Joseph was there, the adoptive father of this One who was born of God. And what is more, Joseph understood that. His joy would have been an awesome joy, because when he had first learned of Mary’s pregnancy, he had thought that she had been unfaithful. He didn’t want to disgrace her in a public way. He just wanted to break off the engagement privately.
But the angel came, and the angel said to him, “Don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, Joseph, because that which is conceived in her is conceived of the Holy Spirit.” It was an announcement of the virgin birth. The angel said that this child was going to be unlike other children. This child was the Holy One of God, and Joseph was to call him “Jesus.” And the reason for that is that he would save his people from their sins, because Jesus means, “God is the Savior” or “God is our salvation.”
As Joseph stood there and looked down on the manger where the infant Son of God lay, he must have said, no less than Mary did when the angel appeared to her, “So be it to me according to your Word,” and must have rejoiced in that.
The wise men are the last ones to appear upon the scene in the traditional forms of the story. The wise men came from the East. They were intellectuals. They were the intelligent, educated, sophisticated, even wealthy people of their day, to judge from their gifts. They had come to Jerusalem, having seen the star of the child in the East sometime before. They came asking where he was born. “Where is he that is born the King of the Jews?” They thought everybody would know. This was a great event. Nobody in Jerusalem knew the answer to that question. So they went to Herod, but Herod didn’t know.
So Herod called the teachers of the law, and he asked, “Where is it that this Christ is to be born?” The teachers of the law said that the answer was to be found in the fifth chapter of Micah. They quoted: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times” (Mic. 5:2). That is what they told Herod, and Herod told the wise men. So the wise men went down to see for themselves.
When they left Herod’s palace, we’re told the star that they had seen in the East went before them. When they saw the star, it says they were overjoyed – and even more so when they got to Bethlehem and found the child. There they fell down and worshiped him, and they presented their gifts – gifts of gold and incense and myrrh. I would call their joy extravagant.
Intellectuals are not supposed to be extravagant in the expression of anything. They are supposed to be cool, or balanced. But here were men who were intelligent enough to know that this was something above and beyond anything that human beings normally experience. Normal experiences are frequently a cause for joy. But here is something that was a cause for overwhelming joy. “They were overjoyed,” it says. And so they poured out their gifts in great profusion.
Why was Mary’s joy so profound?
Why was Joseph’s joy fulfilled at the birth of Jesus?
Describe the wise men. What sort of people were they?
Further StudyStudy the prophecy of Christ’s birth in Micah 5:1-5. If you’d like to do a thorough study of this prophetic passage, click here, or call us to order Dr. Boice’s commentary on the Minor Prophets at 215-546-3696.