“Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King.
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing.”
The words of the old Christmas carol, written in 1719 by Isaac Watts, are designed to proclaim that Jesus came into the world to bring the divine characteristic of everlasting joy to every man, woman and child in every generation. Space will allow us to consider briefly only the first verse of this timeless testimony to the glory of the Savior.
“Joy to the world, the Lord is come!”
Christ came into a sad world where an emperor, merely by raising or lowering his thumb, could decide the fate of a human life; a world where men were treated like cattle; a world where only the socially elite had any freedom at all. But Jesus’ birth made it possible for people to know real joy in the midst of evil. When Gabriel told Mary she had been chosen of God to be the mother of Jesus, she rushed into a city of Judah to share the good news with Elizabeth, who responded, “As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy” (Luke 1:44). Most every expectant mother has felt her baby move, but this was really different, in more ways than one!
When the wise men saw the star guiding them to “the one born king of the Jews, they were overjoyed” (Matthew 2:10). The angel’s announcement to the wondering shepherds was, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10). Jesus brought joy into a world largely devoid of it in a new evaluation of people. He proclaimed the immeasurable value of every individual in God’s sight, and he provided a gospel that would give all men freedom and fill them with joy.
“Let earth receive her King”
The wise men came to worship “the one who has been born king of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2). Like Herod, millions today refuse to accept him as king because, like Herod, they fear him.
“Let every heart prepare him room”
Just as he did as a newborn, Jesus wants a place to live among men today: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20, KJV). What a privilege and great joy to have Jesus dwell in our hearts! He won’t force his way in against our will; instead, he lovingly invites us to allow him entrance.
“And heaven and nature sing”
Not only are humans to praise and glorify Jesus as ruler over everything; heavenly beings and the physical universe rejoice in him. To help them understand this and to accept him as ruler, the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Ephesus that God has put everything in creation under Jesus’ feet, under his power and authority (Ephesians 1:22; Psalm 8:6). Jesus said the rocks would testify for him if necessary (Luke 19:39). Yes, heaven and nature do sing of the work and glory of Jesus, just as the angels and others did at his birth.
We can sing “joy to the world” because the Lord has come, and untold millions have received him as king over his spiritual kingdom. Every heart should prepare room for him, because heaven and nature continue to sing of his glory.
Have you experienced the joy of the presence of Jesus in your life? You can!