Joy to the World
By Mike Garland
Jesus is the Lamb.
No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground,
he comes to make his blessings flow, far as the curse is found.
-Joy to the World
John the Baptist said it best.
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29)
The first three entries in this Advent series have emphasized Jesus as the Creator, Jesus as the great I AM, and Jesus as the Word of the Father. My hope is that you have been able to take a moment to wonder at the miraculous love that caused God to put on flesh and bone and come to the world as a humble child. And now, since we have spent some time focusing on who Jesus is, it is time to look at why He came.
Born that man no more may die,
born to raise the sons [and daughters] of earth,
born to give them second birth.
-Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Why did Jesus come? Did He come just to be near us, or to show us what God is like, or to heal the sick, or even to raise the dead? While it is true that He did all those things, they are not the reason He came. He did not just come to be one of us, He came to take our place! He came to strike the first and fatal blow to the curse wherever it may be found! He came to destroy sin, sorrow, and thorn and replace them with His overflowing blessings. In other words, His mission was to make all things right that are wrong in our world. He was, “born that man no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth.” He came to be, as John said, “The lamb of God”.
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. (Isaiah 53:4)
“The lamb” is a concept foreign to us today, but in First Century Israel that title would have carried significant weight and meaning. When Jesus entered the world the Jewish sacrificial system was in full practice. According to the law, at the required time, a lamb was slain pouring out its blood to temporarily cover the sins of the people. The guilt and punishment that the people had earned was transferred to the lamb. The lamb took the place of the guilty, bearing the punishment that they deserved. When John the Baptist called Jesus “The lamb of God” he was predicting that Jesus would become the one sacrifice that all those previous sacrifices pointed to. He was predicting that Jesus would take the punishment that you and I deserved, defeating sin and undoing the curse that ravages all creation.
He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities . . . And with his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)
Jesus came to be pierced for our transgressions and to be crushed for our iniquities (wrongdoings). He bore the wounds that we deserved and took our shame upon Himself. The blood that was spilled on the cross, that final and complete sacrifice, should have been your blood and my blood. But Jesus came to take our place. Joy to the world, the Lord is come . . . Let heaven and nature sing! Our penalty was placed upon Him and now all who believe in His name will be saved.
Let every heart prepare Him room
-Joy to the World
The Christmas Carol Joy to the World is a call to great happiness at what God has done for us. But it also is a call to action. Our Savior has come to redeem us and make us new, but He does not force His way into our hearts. We must prepare room for Him. We must invite Him to enter.
Remember Christ our savior was born on Christmas day,
to save us all from Satan’s power when we had gone astray.
-God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Remember we have all gone astray, choosing our own path, and turning against God (Isaiah 53:6). But Christ came to save us from the power of sin, making us new, inviting us to His table as children, and making us heirs to the Kingdom of heaven! We give gifts at Christmas to remember the greatest gift of all; the new life that is promised to us because of the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus! Although that gift is given freely, it must be received. Just like the presents under the tree, it must be opened to be realized and enjoyed. If you have received the gift, there is reason for joy this Christmas season because the Lord has come as the Lamb of God to take your place. So join with heaven and nature in singing praises today, tomorrow, and forevermore!