This morning, during worship at our church, our family read aloud the Advent reading and lit the fourth candle on the Advent wreath, the candle for joy. We had been provided with the reading a few days ago and we looked it over with our daughter, who chose the last sentence as the one she would read. She is a kindergartner and just learning to read. The sentence she chose was the last one, which said, “And we are filled with inexpressible and glorious joy.”
Inexpressible is a mouthful of a word, particularly if the one reading it is on the cusp of being six years-old. Preparing our daughter to read this sentence in church had two parts. The first part was teaching her to say the word. My wife helped her break it into syllables and it didn’t take her too long for her to teach our daughter to be able to say the word clearly.
But what does ‘inexpressible’ mean, particularly in reference to Jesus’ birth, to a six year-old? We did the best we could to help her understand it. A sense of joy that is so great that we can’t really say how excited we are about it. The birth of Jesus makes us so happy that we can’t even say how happy we are. The paradox of ‘inexpressible joy’ is that it’s such a marvelously good thing that it is a really hard concept to grasp and explain.
This last sentence of the Advent reading was derived from 1 Peter 1:8-9, which says:
“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
We have joy, inexpressible and glorious, not simply because of Jesus’ birth, but because of the reason for His birth, the salvation that comes to those who believe in Him.
On Christmas we remember that God broke into the world in a powerful and unique way. He arrived, in human flesh, so that through the means of His departure, as the crucified one bearing the punishment for human sin, those who believe in Him would be reconciled with God and receive the salvation of their souls.
This Christmas may you know the inexpressible and glorious joy that is only found in Jesus.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.