A CHRISTMAS SHOUT REQUESTED!
“Rejoice greatly, O my people! Shout with joy! For look—your
King is coming! He is the Righteous One, the Victor!”
Zechariah 9:9 Living Bible
Where have we read anything more full of hope and for overcoming
our dark and depressing world than this verse from the Old
Testament prophet Zechariah?
This is victorious optimism that can only be stirred from God’s great
announcement of this arrival. And we don’t sense or see much of
that real spirit even in this special season of the year.
A newscast closed on a Dallas television with the question asked,
“How do people relieve their typical Christmas shopping stress?”
About 22% did it by drinking more and 18% simply went to bed as
soon as possible. Others said, “They prayed a lot!” But God says we
would do well to give a Christmas shout!
Yes, I realize Christian thoughts related to Christ’s coming may also
produce a pensive pause. We think of a world of tortured people who
find Christmas a time of regret and disappointment especially as the
season fails to live up to their expectancy. In fact, the month
following Christmas is the high season for adult suicides in some
Western countries, including America.
I just flew through Great Britain with a brief London stopover. A
well respected magazine, in its December issue reported a terrible
fact—a secret revealed. If a person is a British male by birth between
20 and 49, that person is more likely to die by suicide than from
cancer, a road accident, or some form of heart disease. The suicide
rate is highest in Britain the first two months of the year. Possibly
just as surprising is that many of these men had it all: money, some
degree of fame, the adoration and approval of friends and people, the
professional respect of their peers, also very often a successful past
and, to a great degree, an assured future.
Too often we don’t seriously pause to consider what their deaths tell
us. One thing is evident in a very large majority of them: these men
did not have a significant and meaningful religious life. That is
certainly not the total explanation of the cause, but it does tell us no
amount of external glory can ameliorate an inner pain that millions
live with continually.
All this is a grim subject to be sure, but the truth is that’s the gloomy
and guilt-ridden world we live in today. What a contrast the verse
from Zechariah is to all that we have just considered. And believe
me—we have every right and reason to rejoice and give out a
Christmas shout. Indeed we should “rejoice greatly.” Our Lord and
King is not only the Righteous One but the Victor! Jesus invaded all
of our world with Good News and to give us victory in life and over
death! Shout it out!
Let us remember that the world of Jesus’ day greatly resembled our
day. It was a world of human hopelessness, dark despair, and the
invasion by enemies of the Jewish people. God saw what was
coming, but yet He told Isaiah to boldly prophesy that “Nevertheless,
that time of darkness and despair shall not go on forever.” For in
the future “The people who walk in darkness shall see a great
Light” (Isaiah 9:1-2, Living Bible).
And it came to pass and it was all fulfilled with the coming of Christ
into the world. Mary let out her Christmas shout saying, “my spirit
has rejoiced in God, my Savior” (Luke 1:47). Later, when those
wise men from the East arrived and saw Jesus, “they rejoiced with
exceedingly great joy” (Matthew 2:10). This is all because we, a
doomed people, have a Deliverer. We now have “a Savior, who is
Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).
So it is no surprise that Christmas carols are joy-filled expressions!
Our faith is a faith full of music and praise. Early Christians
immediately realized they had a real reason to rejoice and celebrate;
this spirit of celebration is rational, it is based on the announcement
given to the ancient prophet Zechariah and many others. Let us then
“Shout to the Lord.” Let us “shout aloud” and together sing out:
Joy to the world, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy”
Anyone reading all the Bible verses related to Christmas notes how
often the word “joy” appears, and “rejoice” too!. What is discovered
with closer inspection and intense study is that the Greek word for
joy as used repeatedly in the New Testament has a spiritual, not an
earthly source. But in the Old Testament it’s the same; it is “the joy
of the LORD” (Nehemiah 8:10). Let me say it, God is the source of
joy! And therefore, joy is possible even in the most impossible
situations. It is balanced Biblical truth to say the Holy Spirit is the
guarantee of God’s joy in the human heart; there can be joy in the
Lord when there is little happiness in this world. Why? It is
supernatural, a fruit of God’s Spirit.
And so, let’s say it this way—the word “joy” is a Christian word not
to be confused with anything this world has to offer. If someone
were to ask, “Is there a way to find joy for my life?” I would
answer—I do not have a formula, but I do have an observation; I
have never known anyone who enjoyed Jesus’ presence who did not
have joy unspeakable. Augustine said, an authentic Christian should
have an alleluia head to foot! Could I give you some very practical
advice? Meet and greet everyone but do not spend extended time
with people who do not evidence “the joy of the Lord”!
So, we are told to “Shout with joy!” Let God be the wellspring.
No other religious expression touches the hem of the Christian
garment of praise—nothing the world knows outside of Christ even
comes close. None have the right and reason to burst out with shouts
of joy as Christ’s followers. Zechariah helps us realize the reason we
should “rejoice greatly” and be glad through and through. The
reason, “your King is coming!” and for us He has come.
Let us acknowledge that the secular world-at-large tells us to do the
very opposite. While God says we should shout this good news from
the housetops, others tell us to quiet down about the coming of the
Savior into the world. Pundits speak of “the war on Christmas,” not
wanting any religious symbolism; they say, remove it and the
historical facts of the Christmas story must never be mentioned. The
Lord tells us, don’t be intimidated by this bold, defiant secular
There is a story told of a choir from a local church getting permission
to sing at a large mall at Christmas. Risers were put up with a small
sound system and the choir started singing out a Christmas anthem
with exuberance and joy. It rang out across the mall. Coming out of
a store with arm loads of full bags and a box, two shoppers looked up
to see the sight. One remarked, “There you go, another example of
the church butting into where it does not belong!” and the protests
against a true Christmas built from there against an intellectually
honest telling of the basis of Christmas and the Christmas story and
its full meaning.
It is an affront to the world to say, in Jesus Christ we find the eternal
God’s self-revelation. To say this is the God beyond becoming
personally involved in our midst is our message. In Jesus Christ, God
actually became a human being and lived among us. Christmas says
it was then that human eyes beheld God’s true glory in human form,
“the glory of the one and only, who came from the Father” (John
1:14); that’s the basis of it.
But that message, we are now told, must not be told in the world’s
marketplace, schools, or public institutions. Yet God says, “No! Tell
it—shout it out.” We cannot, therefore, keep this message to
ourselves and behind four walls of a building. We dare to “shout it
All true followers of Jesus Christ have an inescapable and undeniable
responsibility to tell the world. Ours is to be a public faith with a
missionary dimension. We have a mandate to present Him to the
nations, to “go and tell.” We must! God’s true people are so
hopelessly outnumbered by hundreds of millions who neither know
Him nor acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior—but this gigantic
task is still ours to do, so let us tell the world. Let us understand we
must shout out the story, to come and bow before Him.
Here is the very “mother lode” of the work of effective evangelism
before those who hated them. The early church must have shouted it
out! For with in a generation that little band with a pagan world
arrayed against them had grown until groups of believers and
followers of Christ were to be found throughout much of the Roman
world. Starting in the very city that had crucified their Master and
Lord, they had gone out with such effectiveness that they were called
by their enemies people who had “turned the world upside down”
(Acts 17:6). They refused to cease openly speaking of Him—today
they remain as the example for us to follow.
Look at them, a hated minority yet in time they became a fearless
witness of who Christ was and they followed the instructions of
Jesus, “So have no fear of them … What I say to you in the dark,
tell in the light; and what you hear whispered in the ear, proclaim
upon the housetops.” (Matthew 10:26-27, Amplified Bible)
And today amidst growing secularism, the angels’ words at the first
Christmas have not changed, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you
good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” (Luke 2:10)
Let’s declare it! The Living Bible possibly says those words the best,
“Don’t be afraid!’ he said. ‘I bring you the most joyful news ever
announced, and it is for everyone!’”
And then afterward, having seen the Christ child, the Scripture says,
“Then the shepherds went back again to their fields and flocks,
praising God …” (verse 20) No one has a doubt these shepherds let
out a Christmas shout! In fact, all who heard the shepherds’ witness
“expressed astonishment …” In my mind I can see them almost
celebrating and laughing with delight, across the field with shouts of
“Once you’ve seen that shining star,
You can’t keep it, you’ve got to tell,
Go tell it near and far
That His name is Immanuel.
For it’s Christmas and our response to all this is to repeat the angel’s
gospel when it was first said, “I bring you good tidings of great joy
which will be to all people” (Luke 2:10). Let’s shout to the world, to
“all people” that “your King is coming to you—the Righteous One,
the Victor!” There is every reason to shout this season. So, “Rejoice
greatly … Shout with joy!”