The True Joy of Christmas
Mary said, “And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Luke 1:47
The angel Gabriel ended his announcement to Mary with news about her relative, Elizabeth. Though formerly unable to conceive, this woman was six months pregnant in spite of her advanced age (Luke 1:36).
After Gabriel left, Mary “got ready and hurried” to visit Elizabeth (vv. 39-40). Both women were filled with joy at the news Gabriel had brought. Moreover, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaped for joy at Mary’s greeting (v. 41). Elizabeth’s baby was John the Baptist who began preparing the way for Jesus before either baby was born.
Mary’s words in Luke 1:47 echoed David’s in Psalm 35:9, “And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD; it shall rejoice in his salvation” (NKJV). Joy is not the same as happiness. The joy Mary, Elizabeth, John the Baptist, and David experienced didn’t depend on circumstances. Joy is “an inner sense of exultation and confidence in God, which the Holy Spirit works in the lives of believers and which we experience despite present sufferings” *
Jesus, with His death and resurrection, saved us from our sins. But He has not yet saved us from our enemies. Like David, we’ll have battles with enemies all our lives. But we can say as he did, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows” (Psalm 23:5). Our cups overflow with inner joy because we have a salvation that can never be touched by our enemies. One day God will defeat them all, including our biggest enemy: death (1 Corinthians 15:24-26).
Mary and the other people of Israel had long awaited a Messiah who would save His people. And now He had come. Since Jesus Christ’s First Coming—His death, resurrection, and ascension—we have waited a long time. Can you imagine the joy we’ll feel at His Second Coming, when He achieves total victory?
Notice how often the word joy is used in the carols you hear this Christmas, including “Joy to the world, the Lord is come!”
In Exodus 15:1-3 what does Moses say about joy and salvation? According to Exodus 14, what was the occasion and what part had Moses and the people played in the victory?
In 1 Peter 1:3-13, what reasons does he give for our “inexpressible and glorious joy”?
We can rejoice and delight because God Himself became our salvation. The name Jesus means “Jehovah is our salvation.” For more on the significance of His name, see Mary and Joseph in Dig into People.
Read devotions about two joy-filled Christmas carols: Joy to the World and How Great Our Joy in Dig into Songs.
Nancy J. Baker
Note: This devotion is part of a Christmas series: The Magnificat Series