I am going to keep making adjustments as I go through this process of reading about joy and rejoicing in Scripture with all of you. I know that if I stick with going through Scripture in order I will get bored and/or frustrated somewhere in the middle of the Old Testament (especially if, as I suspect, many of the references in Job are more negative). So today I’m switching things up and starting on a New Testament passage. This one fits perfectly with the current season of the church year, Epiphany. If you didn’t know that’s what this season is, that’s ok. I’m a Lutheran. We love the liturgical calendar for framing our year. Epiphany is the season that falls in between Christmas and Lent, from January 6th through Ash Wednesday (which moves based on something to do with the phases of the moon, I think, but I don’t understand it. I’m thankful someone else has to figure that one out). It is the season where we celebrate that Christ came not only for the Jewish people, but for ALL people. It starts with celebrating the arrival of the Wise Men in Matthew 2:
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
There’s our word, at the end of verse 10, hidden between a prefix and a suffix. Joyed, as in full of joy. And not just that, but overjoyed, spilling out from them. One of my favorite translations of this verse says “they rejoiced with exceeding great joy” (KJV). They were thrilled, ecstatic, spilling over with joy at the sight of the star over the house. They hadn’t even seen Jesus yet, but they knew He was close! I can imagine that kind of thrill, that kind of excitement. It’s the glee in a child’s face on Christmas morning as they race downstairs. It’s the wonder of settling into your seats before the curtain rises on a performance you’ve been wanting to see for years. The Magi knew this star meant Someone special had been born, and they couldn’t wait to meet Him!
My prayer is that I am always ready to meet the King with joy. Not just when He calls me home someday, but when I encounter Him in the Word, in the table, in His creation and in the people around me. Thank you God!