Matthew 2:10 – “When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.”
The most well known Christmas song sung in churches around Christmas time is probably “Joy to the World.” The first line says it all: “Joy to the world! The Lord is come.” Of all that Jesus brings to earth, joy should be listed amongst the most pertinent.
Matthew’s account of Jesus’ birth includes the details of the wise men. It doesn’t say that there were three wise men, and we need to realize that by the time the wise men came to Jesus, he would have been as old as two years old. Aside from that, these wise men came to find Jesus. They were experts in astrology and astronomy. They came from Babylon or Persia and had studied the sacred writings in depth. They understood that God promised a Savior to be born. When they saw the star arise over Israel, they remembered Numbers 24:17 which said, “A star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel.” Seeing the star, they realized the Messiah had been born.
As these wise men came closer and closer to Israel, the star became brighter and brighter till finally they came close enough to know that this was in fact pointing to the Messiah. How did they respond? “When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy” (Matthew 2:10). I’m not sure I can imagine being more redundant in a statement. Matthew couldn’t express in words how joyful they were when they realized that the Messiah had truly come! To rejoice is to celebrate with joy. They celebrated with joy exceedingly. They celebrated with exceedingly great joy. Language really fails to adequately show their joy!
If you’ve ever seen the movie “The Nativity” you’ve seen this part of the story totally botched. Up until this scene, the wise men do a great job acting their parts. They are funny. They have a good time on their long journey. They have personalities. Then all of a sudden, they get to Jesus and it’s as if they lose all of their personalities! Sure, there is a sense of awe, but there seems to be no actual joy!
We pursue joy from many different places. Seek to find your ultimate joy in the Green Bay Packers, and you’ll see depression set in for days after they lose a close game. Seek to find ultimate joy in a family member, and watch your spirits bomb when the family member stays home at Christmas time because of sickness. Seek to find your ultimate joy in hunting or fishing, and watch your sadness overtake you when you come home after not shooting or catching anything.
Nothing in this earth will give us ultimate joy. Why is that? C.S. Lewis helps us to see why. “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” Scripture shows us that pursuing Jesus will always lead to the greatest joy.
This Christmas season, if you are not joyful, then what’s wrong? I understand that life situations come up for many people around the holidays, but don’t let earthly circumstances rob you of the joy that is offered to you in Christ! The fact that God became man in order to give us the greatest gift we could ever imagine should blow our minds. It should leave us rejoicing exceedingly with great joy!