Joy and Weeping Mingled
When Jesus came and lived among mankind, angels announced it with great joy, Mary and Joseph were in awe, shepherds and wisemen bent the knee and even the stars in the sky sang of him. But what did Jesus feel? I wonder. I think his cries as a newborn carried deeper sorrow; his first smile and laugh expressed pure joy. Joy and weeping mingled in God’s one and only Son.
What is joy without the context of sorrow?
Isaiah predicted that the Messiah would be a “man of sorrows.” John records Jesus telling his disciples that his teachings were so that, “His joy may be in them,” and that their joy may be full. Man of sorrows, man of joy? Why so sad? Why so full of joy?
Consider 500 years before Jesus first coming, God’s people had returned from captivity to rebuild. It was hard work, but when they finally got the foundation of the temple in place, they celebrated,
“And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers' houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people's weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away.” – Ezra 3
This advent season I wonder about the mingled sorrow and joy of Jesus’ first advent. When he came, he set aside his place at the right hand of God the Father and took on human flesh, predicament, and station. The same Jesus that had participated in the creation of man was now dwelling among them. Jesus remembered Adam and Eve in their perfection; he was born into a poverty-stricken, Roman-oppressed, sinful Palestine. And so he wept.
But he also brought joy to weddings, healing to paralyzed limbs, sight to the blind. And, for the joy set before Him, he endured the cross! That joy was in the finished work of our redemption so that creation could be reconciled to God!
When he comes again, will he return with sorrow and joy mingled? I think so. Ezekiel teaches us that God takes no pleasure in judging the wicked. When Jesus comes, he will come to judge the whole earth. What a sorrow. But he will come to establish a new, heavenly city where there will be no more sin, tears, or sorrow. Those who believe will be in his presence, and joy will no longer need the context of sorrow. So for today, if Christmas is colored by grief, loss, struggle, pain, doubt, lost hope, or failure, you can bless God’s name and praise him with thankfulness in these circumstances too, knowing that someday in heaven, we will not be able to praise God in the context of sorrow. Don’t lose the opportunity in this present age of lifting up our joy mingled with weeping!
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!