“The Joy Of Anticipation”

Luke 1:39-56 

My joy is not found in my circumstances, but in the fact that Jesus came to save us.

Good Morning, We are continuing our Advent series, Behold: A Savior Is Born. It is this time of year when our hearts and minds begin to shift toward Christmas day. I hope this fills us with joy as we eagerly anticipate celebrating our Savior’s birth and as we eagerly anticipate the return of our Savior, Jesus.

Last week, we talked about the hope that fills our hearts when we think about the fulfillment of God’s words to the prophet Isaiah. It was written that God would give his people signs that the anointed one was coming into the world. 

The wonderful news is that those signs have already come, and we celebrate their fulfillment each and every Christmas season – the arrival of Jesus who is Immanuel, God with us. Today we will look at the joy that is ours as we anticipate what Christ’s arrival in our lives can mean for us.

As we look through the Biblical Christmas narrative, nearly all the characters in the story who were waiting on Jesus to be born were marked by joy. You would think it would be despair after hundreds of years or anticipation, however, just knowing what the arrival of Jesus would mean for them and others filled them with excitement.



The Christmas account in the book of Luke gives us a little insight into some aspects of the story that the book of Matthew does not. 

We are told that a woman named Elizabeth is pregnant under miraculous circumstances. Elizabeth happens to be the cousin of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Mary goes to visit Elizabeth while the two are pregnant. It is during their interaction that we see joy in a unique way.

As _____ read for us in Luke 1: 39-45, Mary arrives in Elizabeth’s home, the baby inside of Elizabeth’s womb leaps for joy and Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit. The text seems to tell us that the reason for Elizabeth and her baby’s (John The Baptist) joyful response is that Mary is carrying the Lord (Jesus) inside of her womb. Just the presence of Jesus being close has a powerful effect on everyone who is present in the home.

Elizabeth praises Mary for her belief in God and her willingness to submit to the plan of God that would be birthed into the world through her womb. 

When I read this text, I wonder to myself: 

“What is it that she and the baby are so excited about?” The Lord, Elizabeth is speaking of, is still an unborn baby. He hasn’t done anything yet.

Perhaps we can learn something here. What if we can experience joy in our lives today, not because of how things are now, but because of what could be in the future by the intervention of God? Elizabeth and her child are rejoicing in what was going to result from Jesus’ long anticipated birth. Notice what Elizabeth says in verse 45, “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord WOULD fulfill His promises to her”. 

Mary is blessed because she trusted and believed in something that had not yet come to pass. Sometimes just anticipating God showing up can be enough to lift our spirits.

In the classic TV show, a Charlie Brown Christmas, Charlie Brown was having trouble getting into the Christmas spirit because of his sad little Christmas tree and the commercialization of the season. So, his friend, Linus said, “Charlie Brown, you’re the only person I know who can take a wonderful season like Christmas and turn it into a problem.” Unfortunately, some Christians seem to have the same attitude as Charlie Brown. We should be celebrating what Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection could mean in our lives, rather than bemoaning all the things that can be found wrong in a season like this. We can always find a reason to be downtrodden or gloomy, but we can also find the gift of God’s presence with us in Jesus.

Maybe you are still waiting on God to do something in your life. Maybe you are still anticipating an answer to a sorrowful prayer. Here is the truth, 

God is not done yet. 

He is always on the move. 

Whenever we are in his presence, whenever we are walking with Jesus, anything is possible. 

Just like Jesus’ presence in Mary when she was near Elizabeth brought forth joy, His presence in our life can do the same for us.


Another set of characters in the story of Christmas is the shepherds. Shepherds were a class of people that were not well thought of in first century Jewish culture. They lived out in the fields day after day watching sheep. They were smelly, dirty, and known to be untrustworthy. 

It is interesting to me then, that the message of Jesus’ birth comes to them first, but it does.

Luke 2:8-18, The Message,

“There were shepherds camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”

At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:

Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the shepherds talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” 

They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the shepherds were impressed.”

In the middle of the night, outside of Bethlehem, an angel appears to the shepherds. The Bible says that it was marked by a great light. When the shepherds saw this, they were terrified. This was not a normal occurrence. The angel brings a message for them that is good news. The reason it is good news is because it will bring great joy to all people.

When we receive good news, it makes us happy, it causes us to be joyful. At Friendship Village School we have three teachers that have good news. Two are engaged to be married and one is having a baby in one month. If you have been someone or known someone in either of those situations you should also remember how people responded when you told them, “I’m engaged!” or “We’re having a baby.” After delivering this news to others, it is amazing how fast the news spreads. Phone calls, texts, and e-mails propel the message forward. Why? Because there is such joy over a wedding or a new baby coming into the family. Just the proclamation of these events happening, brings joy.

What makes the message the angels give such great news? Verse 11 tells us. They are given reason to rejoice and spread the word because a Savior had come to earth. He is the Messiah (anointed one) who is the Lord. 

There is joy in the birth of a Savior because they needed, and we need, to be saved from our sin and brokenness. There is joy because Jesus is the Messiah who is the Lord. He is the anointed one who will lead us with love.

So, here is the good news. Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins. Jesus gave us access to a Holy God. Jesus gave us His righteousness and the promise of eternal life. Jesus promised to never leave us or forsake us.

This is great news, and the Bible says it is for ALL people. He is not just the Savior of some or the Lord of most, He is over all and gave his life to rescue all people. It was not just good news for the shepherds, then, it is good news for us today. This is why we can live with joy and share this good news with others: the baby Jesus was born and 

that one fact changes everything.


Our celebration at Christmas time only makes sense considering the season of Easter that is to come. The birth of Jesus that is told about in chapters 1 and 2 of Luke are only the beginning of what the Savior came to do. It becomes clear later in the Gospels that Jesus was born into the world so that one day he might die on a cross for our sins. The arrest, trial, and crucifixion would have been horrific. The pain he went through would have been terrible. However, the Bible says that even in the middle of it, Jesus still had joy. Why? Because he knew what was on the other side.

Hebrews 12:2 2 “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

We are told that Jesus suffered the cross. He took on the shame and humiliation of death because there was joy that was ahead of Him. What was the joy on the other side of suffering and pain? 

You and me. 

The joy set before Him was the fact that, because of His sacrifice, you and I would be given the opportunity to receive His gift of grace and experience freedom from sin. The reason Jesus could have joy in the darkest time of his life was because he anticipated resurrection.

You see, Elizabeth and the baby inside her womb celebrated because of what Jesus would do in saving the world. The shepherds were given good news that would cause great joy for all people. Jesus endured the cross and knew that joy was on the other side. 

One of the reasons we enter the Christmas season with joy is because we know that no matter what we are experiencing now, because of Jesus, we can look forward to joy in the future.

Sometimes we feel like we must feel joyful to be joyful. The truth is though, that when Jesus was facing the cross, I am sure he did not feel joy. Even though he did not feel joy, he chose to persevere through difficulty, nonetheless. He endured the pain to enter the promise.

Today we remember the pain Jesus endured and the joy that was set before Him in the taking of the bread and the cup. 

Lord’s Supper

Walking in obedience to Jesus means keeping our eyes focused on him as the Hebrews 12 passage states. We are tempted from time to time to lose sight of where our joy comes from. It is good to have a reminder every once and a while.

This Christmas I want to challenge you to make a conscious effort to celebrate with joy because of what Jesus has done for you. No matter what is going on in your life today, with family or friends, plan a time to share joy with one another. 

This could be putting together a family gathering where everyone brings some sort of dish and spends time around the table laughing and sharing stories. This could mean inviting a friend over to play board games and sharing with one another the blessings that you are so thankful for in your life. 

Or maybe share your joy with someone down the street by taking some baked goods and a card to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

‘Tis the season, as they say, to share the joy of Jesus with others. 

Let’s pray together.


  1. How can trusting in God’s plan bring you joy?
  2. Why is it so fun to share good news with other people?

  1. How is joy different from happiness?
  1. What does it mean to choose joy even when life is hard?
  2. What is one practical way to share the joy of the Lord with others around you this Christmas season?