“Joy to the world, the Lord has come!”
“O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant! Come and behold him, born the King of angels!”
“Hark! The herald angels sing, ‘Glory to the newborn King; peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled! Joyful, all ye nations rise, join the triumph of the skies, with the angelic host proclaim, Christ is born in Bethlehem!”
Christmas is a time of joy. As these songs remind us, because the eternal Son of God came to this earth, peace has come, sin is defeated, and we can be reconciled to God. The birth of Jesus Christ has changed everything. We should sing, we should praise, we should delight, and we should rejoice, because of who Jesus Christ is and what he has done for us.
Of course, while we know that Christmas is supposed to be all about rejoicing in Jesus, we can forget that, or take it for granted. There are wonderful things about the Christmas season we get caught up in instead, like family, giving and receiving gifts, parties and dinners, or decorations and lights. On the other hand, some are overwhelmed at Christmas time with a sense of loss, regret, or even despair, and can’t see anything else. We too easily set Jesus to the side instead of making him the center.
Rejoicing in Christ helps us think about Jesus so we will rejoice in Jesus. The more we know Jesus, the more we focus on him, the more we treasure him, the more we will enter into his joy. The book is divided into five chapters, and each one helps us rejoice over an aspect of Jesus’ life and ministry. Jesus is the eternal Son of God who comes to us so that we could know God. He is the human being who succeeds where we’ve failed, so that we could experience life with God. He is the God-Man who dies for our sins, rises from the dead to give us life, ascends to the right hand of the father, and now intercedes for us. He gives us the Holy Spirit so we can be like him and live for him. Finally, Jesus is coming again to decisively end sin and bring everlasting peace.
These wonderful truths are the heart of the gospel, because Jesus Christ himself is the heart of the gospel. Rejoicing in Christ is such an appropriate read at Christmas time because it helps us grasp and appreciate these truths in an accessible way. Thinking about the eternal God taking on human nature to save us can be intimidating. Yet Reeves has a unique ability to explain even deep theological truths in a way everyone can understand. For example, each chapter contains numerous asides on what theologians throughout history have believed about Jesus, but these explanations don’t come across as lessons, but as devotions. Each chapter also contains numerous images and illustrations to help us think about Jesus in a different way than we would just reading about him.
More than anything, however, the book’s focus on Jesus moves us to worship him and increases our joy in him. This is theology at its best, leading us to know and live for God. Reeves is like a captivating preacher, moving us closer to God with insights from his Word. We need this reminder that the purpose of Christmas is to rejoice in Christ, helping us to rejoice him in him every day of the year.
Reeves, Michael. Rejoicing in Christ. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity. 135 pp. $17.00.