Joy to the World! The Lord is Come!

By Mark D. Roberts

December 25, 2018

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth,
burst into jubilant song with music.

Psalm 98:4


A window decorated with Christmas stars.“Joy to the world! The Lord is come.” Throughout the world on this Christmas day, millions of people will sing these familiar words penned three centuries ago by Isaac Watts. “Joy to the World” is one of our most beloved Christmas carols, and for good reason. It invites us to rejoice over the coming of Christ and his salvation.

The story behind the writing of “Joy to the World” is fascinating. I’ll tell part of that story in the devotions for the rest of this week. For now, I’ll simply note that this hymn was originally part of a collection written by Isaac Watts as reflections on the biblical Psalms. “Joy to the World” was Watts’s Christian rendition of Psalm 98, which proclaims, “Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.”

Why should the world rejoice? The reason is given in verse 3 of Psalm 98: “all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.” Though Jesus came as Israel’s Messiah, he would bring God’s salvation to the whole world.

Yet, in addition to the global dimension of Christ’s salvation, one that inspires the whole world to rejoice, there is a very personal dimension as well. As Watts puts it in the first verse of “Joy to the World”: “Let every heart prepare him room.” Christ has come not just for the world but also for each and every one of us. He wants to dwell not just over the earth but also in every human heart, including yours.

On this Christmas Day, in the midst of celebrations and traditions, may we find the chance to welcome Christ in our hearts, to talk with him as with a friend, to rejoice because his salvation is not just for the world. It is for you!

Something to Think About:

What about Christmas gives you joy?

Is there enough room for Jesus in your heart today?

Something to Do:

At some point during Christmas Day, pause for a few quiet moments to let your heart prepare room for Jesus.


Joy to the world! The Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room;
And heav’n and nature sing,
And heav’n and nature sing.
And heav’n and heav’n and nature sing. Amen.


Explore more at The High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project:
Celebrating the Victory of God

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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