Did you notice when I had the children on the steps two weeks ago and asked how they would react to fireworks, they responded exactly how I expected? Ahhhh, Ohhhh, Wowwwww! And Maura also did the hands on her cheeks and said, “Wowwww!” I love how honest and transparent children are. We love to see spectacular things and we also love to anticipate spectacular things. Christmas is clearly a child’s greatest anticipation. They have the wonder, the freshness and, even in our culture, the innocence of anticipating presents at Christmas time.
Many are even excited about celebrating Jesus’ birth along with the presents. His birth changed the calendar from B.C. to A.D. His birth was long anticipated by the Jewish fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. His birth was anticipated by wise men from the East who traveled afar. Wowww!
But after twenty Christmases or so, this holiday can get monotonous to some. They may say, “Okay, let’s do it for the kids, but is it really anything more than a commercialization for business? Is it any more than an extra two weeks off before the New Year? Is it any more than a church thing we do once a year?” Some can become cynical, routine in their ways and even bored. Or those same people can choose to learn what it means to anticipate far beyond even a child’s. Who is the joy of your anticipation?
1) Jesus was Mary’s greatest anticipation Luke 1:35-38
26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women1!” 29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. (Luke 1:26-29 NKJ)
Women, how would you like it if some guy showed up in your bedroom unannounced? It would trouble you too! Okay, so did I say he was good looking, had a full head of hair, tall and shined like light? I’m sure there are a few women who are thinking while you are sitting in this protected room, “Oh, bring that good-looking guy on!” But in the vulnerability of your bedroom you are not thinking that.
30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. 32 “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 “And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” 34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” (Luke 1:30-34 NKJ)
Whoa! Look at these seven magnificent, spectacular divine blessings. Look at what is swimming in her head! First, Mary has favor with God. Secondly, God will bring forth a Son. Thirdly, she will call His name Jesus, Yehusa, or Joshua. Fourthly, He will be the Son of the Highest. Fifthly, He will sit on the throne of David. Sixthly, He will reign over the house of Jacob – Israel. And seventhly there will be no end of His kingdom! Her mind is swimming with wonder and awe. But she responds on a very practical level, “How, since I don’t know a man?”
35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 “Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 “For with God nothing will be impossible.” (Luke 1:35-37 NKJ)
The Holy Spirit affirms His name as Son of God and “with God nothing will be impossible.” How did she respond? “Whatever.” NO!
38 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:38 NKJ)
She gave a loud exclamation declaring, “Look! Don’t miss this!” It’s as though someone said, “Hey, look at my pictures!” “Hey, look at that over there!” She has the joy of anticipation of Jesus! Mary anticipated Jesus! Look at what she did, “Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste…” (Luke 1:39 NKJ) There is someone else.
2) Jesus was John’s greatest anticipation Luke 1:39-44
39 Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, 40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. (Luke 1:39-41 NKJ)
Mary was excited and some explain what is about to happen by “transference.” That is when one person’s excitement causes another person to get excited and that excitement flips the adrenalin in that person (Elizabeth), which then stimulated her baby inside of her to jump, which some doctors and biologists might call reflexes.
No! Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, so this was not merely adrenalin causing the baby to react. Elizabeth had a special enduement of the Spirit, just like David had, when David asked that the Holy Spirit not be taken away, and just like when Samson had the Spirit and didn’t know that the Spirit of the Lord had left him.
42 Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 “But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 “For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. (Luke 1:42-44 NKJ)
Elizabeth humbly speaks by the Holy Spirit. John, the baby inside of Elizabeth leaped! That was not a reflex. That was not biology. The text says, “the babe leaped in my womb for joy!” There was purpose. That was exultation! It was great joy. At feasts, people were anointed with the “oil of gladness.” In Hebrews 1:9, it alludes to a ceremony of anointing, and uses it as an emblem of the divine power and majesty to which to which the Son of God has been exalted.
John, before he was born was tuned into the presence of the Lord, the word of Mary carrying the Lord, and he leaped for joy.
3) Jesus was Israel’s greatest anticipation Luke 1:46-55
46 And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. 48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. 49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. (Luke 1:46-49 NKJ)
She knows she is blessed, but it’s all about Him who is mighty!
50 And His mercy is on those who fear Him From generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 52 He has put down the mighty from their thrones, And exalted the lowly. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things, And the rich He has sent away empty. (Luke 1:50-53 NKJ)
She sings of God’s strength to the humble.
54 He has helped His servant Israel, In remembrance of His mercy, 55 As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and to his seed forever.” (Luke 1:54-55 NKJ)
She knows Jesus is the anticipation of Israel from the Abrahamic Covenant. (Gen. 12:1-3) What were the three things God promised to Abraham? God promised Abraham a land, seed and blessing. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were all given the promised Covenant. David was given the amplified portion of the seed covenant, called the Davidic Covenant. God said, “David, one from you will rule on your throne.” (2 Sam. 7:12-16) That’s why Matthew 1 is all about the genealogy of the line from Abraham to Jesus. Israel was waiting for the Messiah to come. They wanted the Messiah to deliver them from Rome. They wanted to be politically free again. But that is not why Jesus came. He came first to deliver them from their sins.
Our sins separate us from the holiness of God. Our sins condemn us to hell. Our sins prevent us from joy in life. We can experience temporary happiness based on what is happening, but we can never experience God’s joy without Jesus. That’s why Jesus was born – to deliver Israel and all mankind from sins. So He died on the cross to bear the penalty for your sins and mine, that is, to be our substitute. When He said, “It is finished,” He satisfied the righteous requirement of our Holy God to reconcile the world.
However, you have to accept that gift to be saved. Paul wrote,
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Eph. 2:8-9 NKJ)
Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved. John wrote, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:12 NKJ) When you trust in Jesus, you’ll become a child of God and can grow in a relationship with the God of the universe. If you do, tell me and I’ll help you learn about Him.
Men and women:
There is no greater anticipation of joy than Jesus!
- What do you believe will bring you satisfaction? For some people, Christmas will be a very difficult time. Some are without a loved one, or out of job and this is a really tough time. It seems everyone else is having a great time, but some are thinking, “Does anyone else know my situation? Does anyone else know how empty I feel? Does anyone else know that I am really struggling right now?”
Some won’t say anything. They’ll just silently drift to the side of the party or life and watch it from a distance, wishing someone would understand or come alongside. Some just want to be left alone to their own unhappiness. They might even think that they are not good enough for people anyway. They might even think they deserve the problems they have. There are so many people against them anyway, so how can they get a foot up in life?
Friend, if that is you, there is one solution and that is Jesus. He is not a trite phrase. He is the God-man of the universe who loved you so much that He had you in mind when He was born in a common dirty stable and grew up in a common poor family and died on a common condemned cross for your sins and mine. He had you in mind.
If you turn from the glitter of the world or the pain-relief the world offers and fall at the foot of the cross, Jesus will become more real to you than anything on earth. He will become more real than your pain, your loneliness and your emptiness. He will become more real than the pressure and tension in your relationships at home, at work and even in life. He will become more real than your best present, your best imagined vacation and your best night out. Jesus will never leave you. He will never forsake you. In fact, He will never grow weary of you.
When Jesus died on the cross, He satisfied the righteousness of God the Father. Do you know what that took? Nothing could satisfy the righteousness of the Father. Not me. Not you. Not anyone but Jesus. None of us could satisfy the righteousness of the Father, but Jesus did, because He was totally dependent on the will of the Father, totally dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit and totally dependent on fulfilling the Word that was written. When you accept Jesus as your Savior, you will be released from the guilt of sin, which is like a sack of bricks on your shoulders. And you will be drawn into His presence. You will enter a rest that is unexplainable. It’s called the “peace that surpasses all understanding.” It is described as a “faith rest” in Heb. 4. Because Jesus satisfied the Father, you will have a satisfaction in Jesus. It is a satisfaction that you cannot find anywhere else in people, in the world, or in presents.
- Choose Jesus as your anticipation, because nothing else will satisfy. There are some who will turn to alcohol and drugs to deaden the pain of emptiness, loneliness and misery. There are some who chase after all the events trying to find happiness in the season. There are some who will sit and just wait for others to bring them happiness, because they feel like others are supposed to make them happy. Happiness depends on what is happening. Joy depends on knowing that “God is in control, I get to be a part of God’s world and I can be in of God’s will.” Ahh, Ohh, Woww. If Jesus is your anticipation, He will completely satisfy you. He satisfied the Father, He will satisfy you. If you are not satisfied, you do not have the joy of anticipating Jesus. If you are waiting on people to satisfy you, you do not have the joy of Jesus in your life.
- In His presence is the fullness of joy Ps. 16:11; Luke 10:38-42 If Jesus is your anticipation, you’ll lead your family. If you anticipate doing this in your own strength and depend on only your ability, you will not spiritually lead your family. If you are waiting on your children to be perfect and “get” what you are trying to teach them, you will be a frustrated dad or parent. Anticipate Jesus working in their lives. If you are waiting on your husband and you keep telling him he needs to lead, you will continue nagging and complaining to others about your husband. Anticipate Jesus with a quiet and gentle spirit and trust Jesus to move in his heart. You’ll have joy, even if your husband does not change. If you anticipate the joy of Jesus and experience His presence in the fullness of joy, you’ll rest in Him with settled assurance that God is in control, you get to be a part of His world and you can be a part of God’s will. Ahh, Ohh, Woww.
38 Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” 41 And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 “But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42 NKJ)
11 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Ps. 16:11 NKJ)
Message Based Discussion Questions
1) What kinds of things bring people happiness in life?
2) Is anticipation a factor of faith? _____________ How do you describe faith from Bible characters that show anticipation? (cf. Heb. 11)
3) Do you know how long Israel had been waiting for Abraham’s Covenant to be fulfilled at Jesus’ birth? ______________ Who are some examples of those who anticipated the coming Christ? (consider both the Old and New Testaments!)
4) Do the Psalms reveal any kind of joy? ____________ What are some examples of Psalms that declare or anticipate joy? What songs do you sing that bring you joy?
Making application from the message to life:
5) How would you explain “The Joy of Anticipation” to a disciple? How is Jesus real to you?
6) How do people normally respond to offenses or hurt in relationships? How would “The Joy of Anticipation” change how a person would respond?
7) How does the Joy of Anticipation become more real than problems in life? What are some examples?