God has broken into history. This is what Christmas is all about. And this inbreaking is a cause for joy. Churches and towns all across the country will be retelling this story in creative ways over the next few weeks. Our church will be doing the same here in South Royalton. Join us for our town Pageant on December 18th at 6:30 p.m. (The picture above is from one of our church Pageants.)
The title of this post is the opening exclamation of the very famous hymn “Joy to the World.”
Joy to the World, the Lord is come!-Isaac Watts in Joy to the World
Not has come but is come.
The hymn is based on the second portion of Psalm 98. But the lines of the hymn quickly reveal that Watts is (rightly) using his New Testament lens. He is recognizing that he stands between the first coming of Jesus and his future, second coming.
He looks back and he sees the first coming of the Lord in the stable in Bethlehem some 2,000 years ago. But he’s saying something stronger than merely the Lord has come.
The Lord is Come
Recently I was exploring some of the reasons behind Watts’ phrase “The Lord is come.” Why say it that way?
I stumbled across someone that had written a piece on this very phrase. Here’s what he writes:
…to say “the Lord is come” puts the emphasis on the state of having come and now being here, as opposed to saying, “the Lord has come,” which simply puts the emphasis on the action of coming. Do you see it? The Lord didn’t just come, he is here!-SL Hutchens at “A Christmas Grammar Lesson: The Lord is Come?”
And this is a cause for joy. Why?
Because those of us who weren’t there for his first coming, have not missed a thing.
It would not be a cause for joy to us if we missed his first coming and he was gone.
“Your favorite band was in town last week, now they’re gone,” your friend says. “Take joy!”
No, I missed the concert, the great coming of my favorite band. How does that bring me joy?
It doesn’t—you missed it.
But this coming that Watts writes of here, we can now see from our perspective in history. And what we see is that this coming is not just a flash in the pan. It’s not just a moment in time. It was a moment in time, and the Lord certainly did come in history, in the flesh, in real time. However, his coming did something that was not isolated or bound by time.
We, here in the 21st century, can access it now. How so?
Watts elaborates in the next lines:
Let earth receive her King;-Watts
let ev’ry heart prepare him room
and heav’n and nature sing,
There it is.
This coming is different. It is a coming that somehow can also happen in your very heart. That your heart is a place where this coming King can live. This is not a king that just sits on a throne out there somewhere at some point in history, he is a king that can sit on the throne in your heart.
Watts says this is something to take joy over. In fact, his says this is such a joyful thing that all of the earth, all of heaven, sing at the very thought of it.
And this is precisely what Psalm 98 says:
4 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;-Psalm 98:4-6
break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
5 Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,
with the lyre and the sound of melody!
6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn
make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!
This coming is worth a great celebration.
You Haven’t Missed It
And here’s the best news, you haven’t missed it. You can read about it in your Bible, you can just open it up and see and hear and experience it. We have a front row seat to the greatest story ever told.
And moreover, this story has everything to do with us.
Again, it would be quite tragic wouldn’t it if this great great story was just a distant memory, something we could not experience or know ourselves. It would be someone else’s story. We would merely be spectators.
C.S. Lewis once said in a radio program:
“We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words–to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.-C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, 42.
In other words, we want to be a part of this story. We don’t want to be caught just watching the dance, we want to be in it.
Well, let me tell you that you are a part of this story. And it is for this reason that the coming of the king is a cause for joy.
Because this King came for you too. He didn’t come for some people way over there in some other time and place. He came for you. And He came that you might have life and that more abundantly (John 10:10). He came that you might be on the inside of the story.
But to be on the inside you must believe and trust Him. Don’t wait another moment. Prepare Him room in your heart today. Call upon the Lord Jesus and be saved.