Rooted in Christ

Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room

“Joy to the World” begins on the note of asking what we will do with this Jesus.

I am one of those who enjoy hearing Christmas songs before Thanksgiving. For one thing, I think it’s a shame that carols are relegated to a particular time of year. Even church services tend to reserve the songs to Advent. Like the book of Leviticus in many Bibles, the Christmas section of our hymnals remains untattered. 

Other than the fun of hearing Christmas hymns, there is a more important reason to include them in the repertoire of songs. That reason is the gospel. Christmas celebrates the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. The eternal Son of God took upon Himself true and full humanity for the purpose of saving those sheep the Father had given Him from eternity past. 

Christmas hymns convey the gospel. They communicate it to believers to the nourishment of their soul and edification of their faith. They also proclaim it to unbelievers in the hearing of the good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 

I remember walking in the mall around Christmas time, something I tried to avoid but love requires sacrifice. Flitting from store to store to find the perfect gift for my wife, I would hear the name of Jesus blasting from the speakers, with descriptions of His mission and calls to worship and adore Him. I wanted to stop people milling about and say, “Do you hear what I hear? Do you know what they are saying?” 

One of those Christmas songs that convey the gospel is “Joy to the World.” It has some heady credentials. It was written by Isaac Watts as a paraphrase of Psalm 98 that celebrates Jesus as the subject of the psalm, familiarly sung to a tune composed by George Frederick Handel. 

Over the four Fridays of December we will explore a passage of Scripture that reflects each of the stanzas of “Joy to the World.” The first stanza speaks of the earth receiving her King. 

Joy to the world! the Lord is come:

Let earth receive her King;

Let every heart prepare him room,

And heaven and nature sing. 

In his Gospel account John begins with a prologue, a summary of sorts of the account of the life of Jesus laid out in the body of the Gospel. Rather than starting with a birth narrative as do Matthew and Luke, John begins with the pre-incarnate Christ who was with God and was God. 

This eternal Son “became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).  He became incarnate to save, something John explains throughout his Gospel account, which is written so  “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31). 

“Joy to the World” begins on the note of asking what we will do with this Jesus. It sets up the rest of the hymn by alerting us that a response is required. Will be bow before this king or will we not? 

John too sets up the rest of the account by alerting us in the prologue to a response of faith: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). We are to receive God’s testimony about Jesus and we are to believe (John 5:24) upon Him that we might have life and know joy in fellowship with the Father and the Son.

Reflect and respond in prayer to the biblical truths of this stanza of “Joy to the World.”

Joy to the world! the Lord is come:

Let earth receive her King;

Let every heart prepare him room,

And heaven and nature sing. 

This Christmas point your friends to the good news of great joy with the gospel booklet, God’s Good News, available as a free PDF download or for purchase as a booklet. 

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Scripture quotations marked NKJV are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved. Those marked ESV are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Stan Gale

Stanley D. Gale (MDiv Westminster, DMin Covenant) has pastored churches in Maryland and Pennsylvania for over 30 years. He is the author of several books, including A Vine-Ripened Life: Spiritual Fruitfulness through Abiding in Christ and The Christian’s Creed: Embracing the Apostolic Faith. He has been married to his wife, Linda, since 1975. They have four children and nine grandchildren. He lives in West Chester, Pa.
Books by Stan Gale