Advent: Great Joy for a Great Many
by Michael Cooper
It is hard to imagine their situation. Nine months before, Mary was young, unmarried, and told she would become pregnant; an even greater miracle than what had happened with her relative Elizabeth. She learned from Gabriel that her baby would be great and would be called the Son of the Most High. He would reign from the throne of David over the house of Jacob, and His kingdom would have no end. Joseph was honorable yet perplexed when reassured by an angel in a dream that Mary’s pregnancy was by the Holy Spirit. They were both told to name the baby Jesus.
“And at the end of eight days, when He was circumcised, He was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.” (Luke 2:21)
The Apostle Peter tells us that there is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved (Acts 4:12). It is the name that is above every name and at the sound of that name, the Apostle Paul tells us, every knee will bow and tongue confess that He is Lord (Phil 2:9-10). His Hebrew name means “God saves” and it is that name, the one given to Him by Mary and Joseph, we proclaim around the world.
A recent convert from Islam shared,
“I understand that Jesus is the only way to go heaven and receive a blessing from God. I confessed my sins before God and I cry to Him for my sins. I have peace in my heart and understand that Jesus forgave my sins. I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior and Lord and decided to follow Him. I started to read my Bible regularly and pray to God. Now, I am sharing about God with other Muslims among our own people and through me many people accepted Jesus as their Savior and Lord and are obeying the word of God. I want to give thanks to God that He has chosen me for His kingdom. I give all glory and honor to Jesus because He is my Lord whom I worship day and night. Jesus is my Heart. I love Jesus because He loved me first.”
A wonderful testimony of how God saves, yet, it is hard to imagine that there are still places on the planet that have never heard the name of Jesus. More than two millennia after the angelic announcement of good news of great joy that is for a great many, not all have heard. In 1900, there were only 880 million people who did not know the name of Jesus. Today, because of population growth, there are 2.1 billion who have never heard the name that Mary and Joseph gave their newborn baby. Even so, the proclamation of that name brings great joy for a great many. Now, it is for us to proclaim it to a great many more.