We love singing all the Christmas carols this time of year. It’s because we are so mindful of Christ birth. But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. this will be a sign to you; You will find the baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Most of the time (because we’re in a hurry) we only sing the first and maybe the last verses of these great carols! Shame on us! And shame on you, worship leaders! We are leaving out some really important theology and as a result robbing our congregations of knowing more about the Christ, the promised One.
We sang some carols today during a monthly lunch gathering of senior adults and a retired pastor leaned over to me – after we sang all four verses of “Joy to the World” - and he commented on how we seldom sing all the verses. He was right. Patience is a virtue and the fruit of the spirit. We miss out on so much when our impatience leads us to skip verses such as;
No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground
He comes to make his blessings flow
Far as the curse is found, far as the curse is found
far as, far as the curse is found.
You won’t hear this verse sung in arrangements on any Disney Christmas albums. So if yours is a Disney Christianity, you can stop right here. You need not read any more of this article. However, if the Christ you worship at Christmas is more than just a baby born in a manger, if to you, He is the Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Emmanuel, and the One Peter confesses “You are the Christ the Son of the Living God,” then lets take a look at the oft excluded verse 3 of Isaac Watts’ “Joy to the World.”
We start this verse with “No more let sins and sorrows grow or thorns infest the ground” and we recognize the fall of man. This is the story we know from the opening chapters of the Bible when Adam and Eve – of their own free will, and tempted by the serpent – disobeyed God and ate the fruit from the forbidden tree. When they confessed that they had ignored the one instruction God had given them, He cursed the serpent, then He cursed the woman and the man and he cursed the ground.
“Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you will eat the plants of the field” Genesis 3:17
“He comes to make his blessings flow.” What kind of blessings? We often think of blessings as ‘stuff’ that is not the case here. Jesus is the blessing from God – the One who brings salvation from this curse. Watts appropriately uses the verb “flow” because Jesus is the Living Water. He is the curse lifter, the Redeemer of the earth. He is the Promised One that the prophets spoke of. He clothed Himself in our injured flesh and entered a world that had been cursed – a result of a fallen humanity. He died a sinners death, was buried and rose again bringing us eternal life and returning to us the fellowship between God and mankind that we haven’t been able to know since the garden of Eden. And He will come again and the curse will be completely lifted and we will once again enjoy the fullness of His presence.
“Far as the curse is found.” The blessing of Jesus is also relief from the curse. He will return again to gather his children and resurrect the dead in Christ. The curse will be lifted and he will make all things new again.
“Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it. and His bond-servents will serve Him;” Revelation 22:1-3
“And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.” Revelation 22:7
Christ has not yet returned. Verse three is sung in anticipation of His second coming. In this one carol, sung at Christmas time, we celebrate His first coming and we also, with our spiritual eyes, look forward to His return.