What's the normal image we get of the wise men who followed the star and brought their gifts to the newborn King?
Christmas cards depict them as these three regal and dignified guys, reverently presenting their gifts to the baby King. But as I was reading Matthew 2, I noticed something very different. In verse 10 it says,
"When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy."
So, what did they actually do when they rejoiced? How did these regal guys display their joy? I decided to do a little search of the original meanings of those words. This is what I found:
REJOICE: The word in Greek is chara, from chairo (reminds me of cheerio), to rejoice, which is related to charis, grace. And my note says:
"...as if joy is a direct result of God's grace. It may also be related to the Hebrew word meaning a young sheep or lamb, indicating the skipping and frisking of a lamb for joy." (Spiros Zodhiates)
And not only that, they rejoiced with "EXCEEDINGLY GREAT JOY"!! ... with EXCEEDINGLY meaning "very, very much", and Greek word for GREAT is "megas". So put it together?? My paraphase:
"When they saw the star, which they'd followed for many, many days, eventually rest over the place where the Child was, they were exstatic. They leaped and danced for joy, because God had led them to the King, the Saviour of the world!! Their long journey was finished, and what they believed about the star was true!! They had reached their destination!"
And this King, the Lord Jesus, was to be the source of great joy for all who would follow Him. As the angel said to the shepherds,
"Behold, I bring you tidings of great joy which will be to all people." (Luke 2:10, NKJ)
And this is the joy that Jesus has promised us if we are His:
“When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, YOUR JOY WILL OVERFLOW!" (John 15:10-11, NLT)
And even though we will mourn, He has promised us ABUNDANT and LASTING JOY!!
“I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy." (John 16:20-24, NLT)
And this was His desire for us when He prayed to the Father before He died... FULFILLED JOY!!
"But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves." (John 17:13, NKJ)
So this joy is ours if we have Jesus. Even in the tough times, we can rejoice!! And even for me today, I just received news from our mechanic that the engine in my little Corolla has gone. We'd put her in for radiator repairs today, on Christmas Eve, only to be landed with that news!! So what do we do?
Well, as I've been reading in James...
"Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." (James 1:2-4, NKJ)
I think I'm learning that lesson!!
No matter what might happen, we will always have reason to REJOICE WITH EXCEEDING GREAT JOY!! Jesus has come!! He lived, He died and He rose again so we can be FREE!!
May you know and experience this GREAT JOY this Christmas!!