The angels which appeared to the shepherds made that now famous line which is plastered across all our Christmas swag, from pillows to pet sweaters. They declared glad tidings of great joy. Now, if we let Hallmark guide our understanding of this declaration we’ll receive a spiritually impoverished understanding of what they declared.
The tidings of “great joy” weren’t just that a cute baby had been born. Of course, while the birth of a child is a wonderful joy, and all the Grandmas’ hearts are warmed, that wasn’t the angels’ point.
These were glad tidings regarding the fulfillment of promise. The joy declared is the joy of a promise fulfilled, it is the joy of covenant mercies being remembered, it is the joy of God making good on His oath to Abraham to bless all the nations through the promised Seed.
Our Christmas joy is founded on the bedrock of two immutable things, as Hebrews 6:18 tells us, those two things are God and His promise. He swore to Abraham by Himself, and confirmed it with an oath. The glad tidings of great joy is that our God who cannot lie, in the fullness of time, made good on His oath and our Savior was born in Bethlehem.
Your joy doesn’t spring from the fleeting word of man. The world tells you to find your happiness, and then points you to all the petty trinkets and shadow glories of earth. Empty promises by finite men aren’t the ground for your eternal joy. Instead, true joy springs from God and His promise. He is and He has vowed. This joy Christ ushered in by His coming is not measured out to us in small doses, but is an ocean in which to swim. These indeed are glad tidings.