December arrives and fills my heart with breathless anticipation. Perhaps the sparkle of it all, and reflecting on childhood memories, no doubt the presents played a huge role. So, do you feel like me when it’s time to store the tree and drag the last tote of decorations to storage? A tiny twinge of sadness?
How can we carry the joy beyond the season?
Each December I invite readers to join me in a joy-seeking adventure through the Gospel of Luke to countdown to Christmas. The mission is to seek joy to share the good news of great joy to a weary world. The Gospel of Luke is special, not only because it’s loaded with joy, but also because we experience an entire account of the life and ministry of Jesus on Earth. Jesus lived, breathed, died, and was resurrected for the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:2).
This adaptation from Seeking Joy through the Gospel of Luke: A Christmas to Calvary Advent Countdown illustrates how to carry joy in your heart when the shine of season’s greetings fade away, or perhaps when your situation seems uncertain. We join the scene in Luke 24 after sad Peter denied Jesus in Luke 22.
I know, these last few chapters of Luke are the story of Calvary that we celebrate on the Easter holiday. But, indeed, they intertwine.
Back to our dejected but not rejected friend Peter. He needs some hope. Look at him over in the corner. Quietly, solemnly contemplating his major mistake. How will he ever make it up to his friend? His friend is gone. He’s grasping for anything … something to redeem his relationship with the friend he seriously wounded.
A gang of giddy girls walks in with some unbelievable news. The disciples scoffed and laughed at their nonsensical chatter. “But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense” (verse 11).
But Peter, he gets it. In fact, it’s the answer to his current problem. As the news startled him, I’m positive he jumped up for joy. Yes, yes! A spark of joy. Certainly, something exciting stirred in his heart because he ran.
“Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away,
wondering to himself what had happened” (verse 12).
Hmm … Jesus’s linens in the tomb. His body gone. I wonder what Peter pondered in that moment.
Jesus is taking His time to reveal the unbelievable story to Peter. Why would He do this? Why delay the joyful reunions?
Jesus speaks to two men on the road to Emmaus: “He said to them, ‘How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?’” (verses 25–26).
These two men returned to Jerusalem immediately to exclaim the truth of the Resurrection of Jesus to His disciples. He’s alive; He’s alive. It’s true! Do you think the other disciples were intrigued? Intrigued, most likely. Convinced? Not quite yet.
“And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, ‘Do you have anything here to eat?’” (verse
Jesus is once again showing us while He is fully God, He’s relatable to us as fully man. Give the guy something to eat.
They scarcely believed this moment. Jesus prepared them for years, yet here they are in the jaw-dropping moment. Unspeakable joy. And I can’t help but realize that their doubts were overcome by this abundant joy now spilling from their hearts. Jesus gave them this joy during their amazing journey with Him on Earth. Imagine how far this joy-fueled band of wanderers will travel with this good news.
The disciples received the final earthly blessing from Jesus as their time together in person ended.
“Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God” (verses 52–53).
Worship. Always seek joy. And continually stay in the presence of God—most intimately through His Word—every day.
Accept His Christmas gift to you. Go out and share His joy and peace today. (Excerpted from Chapter 24 “Blessings and Great Joy” in Seeking Joy through the Gospel of Luke.)
As we wrap up Christmas with a bit of sadness in our hearts, we look forward to the second Advent, the second coming of Christ. May it fill our hearts with breathless anticipation, comfort, peace, and joy in the story after the Christmas story to carry us beyond.