“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: You shall find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10, 11, 12. (NKJV)
“First, then, THE JOY, which is mentioned in our text: from where comes it, and what is it? We have already said it is a “great joy”—“good tidings of great joy.” Earth’s joy is small, her mirth is trivial, but heaven has sent us immeasurable joy, fit for immortal minds. Inasmuch as no note of time is appended, and no intimation is given that the message will ever be reversed, we may say that it is a lasting joy; a joy which will ring all down the ages, the echoes of which shall be heard until the trumpet brings the resurrection. Yes, and onward forever and forever, for when God sent forth the angel in his brightness to say, “I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people,” He did as much as say, “From this time forth it shall be joy to the sons of men. There shall be peace to the human race and goodwill towards men forever and forever, as long as there is glory to God in the highest.” O blessed thought! The Star of Bethlehem shall never set! Jesus, the fairest among ten thousand, the loveliest among the beautiful, is a joy forever!
Since this joy is expressly associated with the glory of God, by the words, “Glory to God in the highest,” we may be quite clear that it is a pure and holy joy. No other would an angel have proclaimed, and indeed, no other joy is joy. The wine pressed from the grapes of Sodom may sparkle and foam, but it is bitterness in the end, and the dregs thereof are death. Only that which comes from the clusters of Eschol is the true wine of the kingdom, making glad the heart of God and man. Holy joy is the joy of heaven, and that you can be sure, is the very cream of joy; the joy of sin is a fire-fountain, having its source in the burning soil of hell, maddening and consuming those who drink its firewater. Of such delights we desire not to drink. It would be worse than damned to be happy in sin, since it is the beginning of divine grace to be wretched in sin, and the consummation of grace to be wholly escaped from sin, and to shudder even at the thought of it. It is hell to live in sin and misery; it is a lower deep still when men could fashion a joy in sin. God save us from unholy peace and from unholy joy! The joy announced by the angel of the Nativity is as pure as it is lasting, as holy as it is great; let us, then, always believe concerning the Christian religion that it has its joy within itself, and holds its feasts within its own pure precincts—a feast whose food all grows on holy ground.”