Inside the introduction written by theologian John Piper to Good News of Great Joy: Daily Readings for Advent, a book of devotionals designed especially for Advent 2013 by Desiring God, a ministry he founded, the pastor answers the question, "What does Jesus want for Christmas?"
With readings beginning Sunday, Dec. 1, and going through Christmas Day, this book of Advent devotionals "aims to put Jesus at the center of your holiday season," states Desiring God. The short meditations are excerpted from the ministry of Piper and correspond to the daily readings in Desiring God's free devotional app, Solid Joys (available in iTunes and Google Play), as well as online.
Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minn., before retiring from that position earlier this year. He is the author of more than 50 books including Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist. John and his wife, Noël, have five children and twelve grandchildren.
David Mathis, executive editor of Desiring God, writes in the book's preface, "Our prayer is that this little devotional might help you keep Jesus as the center and greatest treasure of your Advent season. The candles and candies have their place, but we want to make sure that in all the December rush and hubbub we adore Jesus above all."
Below is the introduction to Good News of Great Joy: Daily Readings for Advent in its entirety, written by Piper.
What Does Jesus Want for Christmas?
"Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world." —John 17:24
What does Jesus want this Christmas?
We can see the answer in his prayers. What does he ask God for? His longest prayer is John 17. The climax of his desire is in verse 24.
Among all the undeserving sinners in the world, there are those whom God has "given to Jesus." These are those whom God has drawn to the Son (John 6:44, 65). These are Christians—people who have "received" Jesus as the crucified and risen Savior and Lord and Treasure of their lives (John 1:12; 3:17; 6:35; 10:11, 17–18; 20:28). Jesus says he wants them to be with him.
Sometimes we hear people say that God created man because he was lonely. So they say, "God created us so that we would be with him." Does Jesus agree with this? Well, he does say that he really wants us to be with him! Yes, but why? Consider the rest of the verse. Why does Jesus want us to be with him?
… to see my glory that you [Father] have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
That would be a strange way of expressing his loneliness. "I want them with me so they can see my glory." In fact, it doesn't express his loneliness. It expresses his concern for the satisfaction of our longing, not his loneliness.
Jesus is not lonely. He and the Father and the Spirit are profoundly satisfied in the fellowship of the Trinity. We, not he, are starving for something. And what Jesus wants for Christmas is for us to experience what we were really made for—seeing and savoring his glory.
Oh, that God would make this sink in to our souls! Jesus made us (John 1:3) to see his glory.
Just before he goes to the cross he pleads his deepest desires with the Father: "Father, I desire [I desire!] that they … may be with me where I am, to see my glory."
But that is only half of what Jesus wants in these final, climactic verses of his prayer. I just said we were really made for seeing and savoring his glory. Is that what he wants—that we not only see his glory but savor it, relish it, delight in it, treasure it, love it? Consider verse 26, the very last verse:
I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.
That is the end of the prayer. What is Jesus's final goal for us? Not that we simply see his glory, but that we love him with the same love that the Father has for him: "that the love with which you [Father] have loved me may be in them."
Jesus's longing and goal is that we see his glory and then that we be able to love what we see with the same love that the Father has for the Son. And he doesn't mean that we merely imitate the love of the Father for the Son. He means the Father's very love becomes our love for the Son—that we love the Son with the love of the Father for the Son. This is what the Spirit becomes and bestows in our lives: Love for the Son by the Father through the Spirit. What Jesus wants most for Christmas is that his elect be gathered in and then get what they want most—to see his glory and then savor it with the very savoring of the Father for the Son.
What I want most for Christmas this year is to join you (and many others) in seeing Christ in all his fullness and that we together be able to love what we see with a love far beyond our own half-hearted human capacities. This is our goal in these Advent devotionals. We want together to see and savor this Jesus whose first "advent" (coming) we celebrate, and whose second advent we anticipate.
This is what Jesus prays for us this Christmas: "Father, show them my glory and give them the very delight in me that you have in me." Oh, may we see Christ with the eyes of God and savor Christ with the heart of God. That is the essence of heaven. That is the gift Christ came to purchase for sinners at the cost of his death in our place.
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Good News of Great Joy: Daily Readings for Advent
More information, links to downloads: http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/books/good-news-of-great-joy