by Jay Anderson
MONROE, MI – This Christmas season, we will all certainly sing what can rightly be called “an accidental song for the season.” Joy to the World is among the most beloved Christmas hymns ever written by one of the most blessed hymn writers to ever live. However, when Isaac Watts published this hymn in 1719, he did not intend for it to point to the first advent (coming) of the Lord. Rather, Watts intended to reflect the truth of Psalm 98 and thus, he wrote this hymn to point to the joy of the second advent of the Lord…the time when the earth will permanently receive her King…the time when all will recognize that the Savior reigns…the time when the curse of sin is no more…the time when the world finally experiences the truth and grace of His rule.
So, should we sing Joy to the World during the Christmas season when Isaac Watts was writing about the second advent? Absolutely! In fact, at the beginning of Jesus’ first advent, the angel announced, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). Joy to the World may be an accidental song for the season but it is perfectly fitting because that is the good news that was proclaimed and celebrated by the heavenly host!
Let us never forget that our joy in looking forward to the second advent of King Jesus is grounded in the joy of His first advent as the Savior. Without the first advent, there would be no good news. We would all remain dead in our sins and we would all continue to dwell under the just wrath of God (John 3:36; Ephesians 2:1-2). However, there is good news of great joy because God became man in order to save sinners (Matthew 1:18-24; Galatians 4:4-5)!
The angelic announcement is the most joy-filled news ever proclaimed; but surprisingly, it came first to shepherds. They were generally poor and powerless. They were often uneducated and ceremonially unclean. Their names are not even recorded in the biblical record. And yet, the good news of great joy was for them as well. The Savior has come for all people regardless of nationality or political position or social standing or ethnicity or historical setting. The Savior came to pay the penalty for sin for people from every nation, all tribes and peoples and languages (Revelation 7:9-10)!
Certainly, let us sing Joy to the World during the Christmas season because the Savior has come for all people. However, perhaps we should also remember to sing Joy to the World during every season because the Savior is coming again!
Grace and Peace,
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jay Anderson serves as Lead Pastor at CrossPointe Church in Monroe, Michigan. Jay and his wife, Kristie, are blessed with four children (Noel, Deacon, Anna, Selah). Prior to coming to Michigan in November 2016, the Andersons served as church planters in Iowa and cross-cultural workers in East Asia.