The Advent of Lasting Joy (11-6-14)
Grab your Bible and let’s go deeper into Luke 1
It is super cool that we are now diving into the Gospel of Luke. This is just in time for Christmas this month. The opening chapters dig into the testimony of the birth of Christ also known as “the Advent”. The Advent means the arrival or the coming!
Today I want us to see the arrival of lasting joy as we look at Christ’s birth through the testimony of Elizabeth.
Read: Luke 1:5-7
Elizabeth is very late in age. What makes Elizabeth’s journey hard is that one of the greatest joys of a woman is to give birth to a child. She is long past the window of human expectation for the ability to give birth. No doubt this is a hard reality for her. She says so herself in Luke 1:24-25 (please read it and let me ask a question).
What is the reproach among people she has faced for so long?
She is a descendant of Aaron and the wife of a priest so the expectations on her to be a model woman are high. She is a good woman who is righteous before God and blameless in her lifestyle. The world says good obedient people prosper, RIGHT? That is NOT what the Bible says, but that is what people think should happen. So it brings great misplaced expectation.
So when Elizabeth gets through her 20’s and doesn’t conceive, then her 30’s, her 40’s, her 50’s and on, she is disgraced by her community for not meeting their expectation of doing the most basic thing a woman is designed to do. Do you relate to her in not meeting expectations you have placed on yourself or that others have placed on you?
But here is what is cool. Elizabeth is a faithful, righteous, God-fearing, God-obeying woman, who is looking into the last stretch of life and has been kept from one of the great joys of womanhood in not being able to get pregnant, and what does she do? She, Rejoices in God! What is her response? -Joy in God!
Read: Luke 1:8-14
The angel says that JOY will come to the household of Zechariah and Elizabeth. Praise God that he has a plan for every person. Praise God that these two did not give up on God! If we skip down to Luke 1:57-58, we see she carries the baby to full term and it is a great joy to them all.
Elizabeth gives birth and she is full of joy. She is rejoicing with her neighbors and relatives that God had shown great mercy to her and provided a son for her to raise. Did you see the testimony of God redeeming some of the relationships that surely were a part of her reproach while barren? This is what God does. He redeems. He restores—not in our timing but in his perfect timing!
Now you could say, “See? The joy in Elizabeth is because her circumstances changed. She finally got what she wanted.” Yes, she is joyful in the provision of a child but what we must see is that she has a greater joy in Jesus.
Turn with me real quick and read John 16:19-24. Read verses 22-24 very carefully. Here Jesus is speaking of a lasting joy, a greater joy, that is found only in him. I will see you again, he says! What this means is: To see Jesus after the cross of salvation—to not be blind anymore but to be given eyes to see him and know him—is to know lasting joy. It is to know and experience a joy that transcends our circumstances. He says, “Your joy will be complete.”
Brothers, if God has ordained that you be a parent then admit that the day your child was born was amazing and filled with great joy. But, not every day with that child is that way. In other words, the joy one has in God’s “provisions” in this life is temporary. But the joy found in “seeing and knowing Jesus” can never be taken away. It is a complete joy!
The joy the scriptures speak of that we have in Christ transcends! This is how what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 6:10 can be possible. When he says he is “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” he is saying that even when life is hard—when circumstances are terrible—in Christ there is JOY!
Now what about Elizabeth? On the surface, it looks like her joy is only in her circumstances changing for the better. Let me show you why it is not. Look at the visit Mary makes to Elizabeth while they are both pregnant and observe where Elizabeth’s joy really is.
Read: Luke 1:39-45
If I know women at all, there is one thing I know to be true: women are highly competitive. Not in a “let’s fight it out way” like men, but in a “how one stacks up against another” kind of way. They are constantly judging each other’s looks, attitude, words, parenting, etc.
Have you ever noticed that this is a very lopsided visit between two pregnant women? They only talk about Mary’s baby. How is it that the “VERY OLD” woman’s pregnancy is not the thing that Elizabeth wants to talk about?
–Because Elizabeth’s joy and focus is on Mary’s pregnancy with Jesus.
Elizabeth makes no move to pull the conversation onto herself. Why? Because she gets it. She gets that Jesus is the one she has been waiting for. The source of her greatest Joy is in the Messiah. She truly gets how the Gospel is the most important NEWS she could ever receive, that it trumps the one thing she has waited her entire life to have happen to her, getting pregnant. Do you see her greater joy is in the news of the coming (the advent) of Jesus?
This is how this is so applicable for every one of us. Is your greatest joy is Christ alone?
My prayer for all of you this Christmas is that you see and savor Jesus over any other thing and therefore discover lasting joy in your life! A joy not found in your circumstances. Not in what you will get for Christmas under the tree or in how your family relationships are going. But in the fact that you finally SEE and SAVOR Jesus as LORD and SAVIOR in your life!
It says it is in this conversation that Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit. This is God’s divine appointment to take up residence in his chosen woman. This is the truest evidence that Elizabeth is a woman of God. Her joy is in the birth of her anticipated redeemer king, JESUS! Jesus is the ultimate source of her joy. As it must be for us if we are to know lasting joy.
We must know the true reality of our sin. The Holy Spirit will not take up residence in a life that is living for itself, but only in a life that has truly repented of sin and trusted in Jesus alone. A life that is living for Christ.
We are faced with the same crossroad this Christmas. Put our hope and joy in our circumstances, or look to the birth of Christ as news that changes everything in our lives! When we really get what Christmas is, it becomes way more than a holiday. It becomes a remembrance, a celebration. It becomes one of the most important life-altering moments in our lives.
I pray that this Advent season you know this not just in your head but in your heart! And that it changes everything in your life!
By His grace and for His glory,
-Shepherd / Soldiers for Jesus MC / Bakersfield CA