Who's Excited About Christmas?

Bible Book: Luke  1 : 39-45
Subject: Christmas

"It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” the song says, as it is played through the speakers of stores where people are trampling one another to buy a discounted waffle iron.

For the child eyeing a present under the tree, it may very well be a wonderful season, but for many, Christmas is stressful, hectic, and even depressing.

Mental health professionals call it “seasonal affective disorder”, but most just refer to it as the holiday blues.

While consumerism, busyness, and family tensions can certainly make the season blue, there is nothing in the real meaning of Christmas that should cause anyone to be depressed.

The message of Jesus’ birth and the entrance of the Savior into the world is something to be excited about.

Isaac Watts was correct when he wrote:

"Joy to the world, the Lord is come,

Let earth receive her King!"

In the opening chapter of Luke’s gospel, we find an interesting story involving Mary, the mother of Jesus, and her cousin, Elisabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. In this scene, both women were still pregnant with their significant sons. One writer said, “Together their miracle children [would] change the world…”[i] Yet, the glow that filled both of their faces was really all about one of the sons – the Son. There is a lot of excitement in this scene, and it’s all about the birth of Jesus. This brief story, exclusively recorded by Luke, points us to who should really be excited about Christmas, and the reason for their excitement.

Look over this passage with me, and consider the people who can truly celebrate the coming of Christmas. First of all, the excitement of Christmas belongs to:


Along with the news that she would give birth to the Messiah, the virgin Mary was also told in verse 36, “…behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.”

The two lives being carried by these two women were destined to be intertwined and related by more than just their families. Elisabeth’s son, John, would become the greatest of the prophets, pointing men to God’s Son, the fulfillment of the greatest prophecies.

It is the pre-natal John who first shows signs of excitement about the coming of Christ. Verse 41 says, “And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb…”

John MacArthur calls this a “silent prophecy”[ii] from John, and the first of his announcements as the forerunner of Jesus.

As we think about John’s excitement in this text, we are reminded of his overall relationship to Jesus, and his passion for the glory of Christ. It reminds us for one thing of:

A. John’s happiness in the presence of Jesus

Before John was born, an angel prophesied of his birth to his father, Zacharias. Part of that prophecy included the fact that, “…he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb.” (Luke 1:15) That prophecy came true, for even as an unborn baby, John sensed the presence of Jesus, and literally jumped for joy. That is how Elisabeth described it in verse 4She said, “…the babe leaped in my womb for joy.” John’s greatest joy, even before he was born was the fact that Jesus, the Lamb of God, had come into the world.

When asked about the ministry of Jesus, in John chapter 3, John the Baptist said, “…I am not the Christ, but…I am sent before him.” Then John gave this analogy. He said, “He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.” For John, the presence of Jesus in the world was more important than even his own life. He rejoiced to know that the Messiah, Savior, and King had come. Even as an unborn baby, John reveals that the presence of Jesus is the highest joy for those who love and serve Him.

Many people struggle with grief and sadness around the holidays because of who is not here, and the loved ones that are gone. Yet, the real joy of Christmas is who is here! John reminds us that there is happiness and joy because of the presence of Jesus!

In John’s excitement we see not only his happiness in the presence of Jesus, but we are reminded also of:

B. John’s heart for the preeminence of Jesus

John’s own birth was no small matter. His mom and dad were old, beyond the normal years of conception, and his mother had been barren her whole life. Though in a different way, John’s birth was a miracle much like that of his cousin. Yet, in this text, the joy of John is not over his own birth. No, he is excited over the coming birth of Jesus.

From the very beginning, John saw the life of Jesus as the priority, preeminent over everything else. In John 3:30, speaking of Jesus, John the Baptist made one of my favorite statements. He said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Even from his birth, John understood that nothing and no one was more important than Jesus. He was committed to the glory of Jesus, even above his own life.

For us, when Christmas becomes filled with worries about what we want, or what we have to get; where we are going, and who we have to see, it is easy to lose sight of who and what this season is really all about. Yet, if like John, our heart is for Jesus to be preeminent, to have the first place, then the excitement and joy of Christmas cannot be stolen from us.

People talk about keeping Christ in Christmas. However, it is not enough for Him to merely be a part of it, and included in it. He must be the center of it. “…That in all things, He might have the preeminence.” (Colossians 1:18)

The excitement of Christmas belongs to those committed to the glory of Jesus. Furthermore, looking at this story, we see that Christmas is exciting also for:


Once John leaped inside her womb, Elisabeth joined in the joy of her unborn son. Verse 42 says, “And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.” Then she added in verse 43, “And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”

When they met, Elisabeth pronounced a blessing upon her young cousin, Mary. But the blessing was not based so much on Mary, but upon Mary’s child, whom Elisabeth described as, “my Lord.” Elisabeth realized the grace of God to Mary, and to her as well, being awakened to the truth of Jesus and His soon-coming birth.

Likewise, when we see the amazing grace of God revealed in the person of Jesus, we too have something to shout about.

Consider Elisabeth’s excitement in this text. It has to do with:

A. Grace revealed by the Holy Spirit

There is another character at work in this joyous scene. Along with baby John, Elisabeth, and Mary, we find the work of the Holy Spirit.

Verse 41 says, “And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost.”

The same Holy Spirit that had filled the unborn John now also filled his mother. The Spirit’s movement in her heart was even more powerful than the movement of the baby in her womb. It was under the power of the Holy Spirit that Elisabeth spoke these prophetic words regarding Mary and her Son. The Holy Spirit opened Elisabeth’s eyes to see the wonder of what was going on, and the grace of the One who was even then living in her cousin’s womb.

There is a reminder here that when we live under the control and in the fullness of the Spirit, we are more aware of the grace of God in Christ! When He fills us, we see Jesus, and like Elisabeth, we are moved to worship Him and thank Him for His grace towards us! If your life is filled only with all the rush and ruckus of the holiday’s, it is likely that you will not see the true wonder of Christmas. Yet, if the Holy Ghost has control of you, you will see with wonder the God who has come down to us, and the gift of grace revealed in the person of Jesus!

In Elisabeth’s excitement, we see not only grace revealed by the Holy Spirit, but we see also:

B. Grace resulting in a humble spirit

Look again at Elisabeth’s question in verse 4. She said, “And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”

Elisabeth said, “Who am I that I should get this visit?” She was humbled by the fact that she was allowed to be in the presence of Jesus, and made aware of who He was.

The old, British preacher, Joseph Parker, talks about how it would have been easy for Elisabeth to be so caught up in her own blessings and privileges, that she might have overlooked the blessings of Mary.

And yet, though Elisabeth had much to boast and rejoice in herself, yet she was still moved and humbled by the greater blessing that came with the presence of her Lord.

No matter what we may have, or not have this Christmas season; no matter the number of our gifts or the lack of them; every one of us has reason to bow humbly and thankfully before God because of His gift to us in Christ!

Who are we that God should send His only Son to us? Who are we to receive the blessing of His life in exchange for the sinfulness of ours? It is a humbling grace!

A young girl once complained to the famous writer, Robert Louis Stevenson, that her birthday was on Christmas day, and she always felt like she got shortchanged when it came to gifts. When he died, Stevenson included the young lady in his will. He bequeathed to her his birthday.

On Christmas, though the birthday belongs to Jesus, we should be humbled by the fact that the gift has been given to us.

Like Elisabeth, we should be overwhelmed and excited by the truth of the grace of Jesus towards us.

Christmas is exciting for those committed to the glory of Jesus, and those conscious of the grace of Jesus. Thirdly, we see in this text that the excitement and joy of Christmas also belongs to:


Notice what else Elisabeth said in her joy and excitement. In verse 45 she said, “And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.”

The previous blessings were really about Jesus. But here the blessing was specifically applied to Mary. Elisabeth, filled with Spirit, spoke assurance to Mary about the message from heaven she had heard and believed. This blessing, however, is not just Mary’s. All those who join Mary in believing the good news of Jesus are partakers in this blessing.

Consider the faith of Mary and what it says to us about our own faith in the gospel of Jesus. For one thing, we see in Mary’s belief:

A. Faith in the person of Jesus

Elisabeth spoke of the things that Mary had been told from the Lord. Those “things” are found earlier in this same chapter.

Beginning in verse 30, the angel said to Mary, “Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest…” (v. 30-32)

Mary was a young, virgin girl. Yet, heaven informed her that she was going to be pregnant, and that her son would not just be her son, but the Son of the Highest. His name would be “Jesus”, a name that Mary would have recognized to mean “Jehovah Saves.” Regardless of how much Mary understood about the future of her Son, including His sacrificial death, at that point, she believed what the angel said about the nature of her future child.

Elisabeth said, “You are blessed, because what you have believed will certainly become true and be performed by the Lord!” In a similar way, the gospel tells us that in the person of Jesus we find not just another man, but the Son of God. In Him and His death on the cross, we find the salvation of God for our sinful souls. Like Mary, when we believe upon Him, we find the Lord does exactly as He has said! His Word proves true, and we are saved by the power of the gospel!

With Mary and Elisabeth, we can celebrate the birth of Jesus, knowing full well who He is and the salvation He provides for us!

While traveling through Greece, the Roman orator, Cicero came across a pillar with the Greek word for “savior” inscribed upon it.

While Cicero said that he admired the fullness of the word, he didn’t really know what it meant.

When we look at Jesus, born in Bethlehem, it is not just a quaint and beautiful story. We see in the person of that new born baby, our Savior and the hope of our salvation!

In Mary’s belief, and the blessing she received, we see not only a faith in the person of Jesus, but we see also further:

B. Faith in the promise of Jesus

Again, Elisabeth blessed Mary for believing the things the Lord had told to her. Those things not only included truths about the nature of her son, but also some truths regarding the future of her son.

Back in verses 32 and 33, the angel said to Mary, “…the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”

The blessing of Mary’s faith came because she believed the promises of the Lord for Her son, even those that would come long after His birth. Like Mary, the real excitement of Christmas for those of us who believe, is not just the birth of Jesus. It is not just the manger and the Magi, the angels and the stars that stir our hearts.

Our faith looks beyond the stable to the cross; beyond the cross to the empty tomb; beyond the tomb to the kingdom that shall have no end. When we look by faith at His first coming, and we are stirred about His second coming! We are excited about Christmas because we believe the promise of the gospel; that the Lord who came the first time as a baby is coming a second time as the King!

Handel’s musical oratorio called the Messiah was composed in 1741, but it is still regularly performed to this day, often during this holiday season. Though the composition begins with the birth of Jesus, it is best known for its “Hallelujah Chorus” which comes much later in the piece. We who truly celebrate Christmas are thankful for the birth of Jesus, but it is the coming Hallelujah Chorus that we are really excited about. Like Mary, we believe the promise of the gospel by faith, and we look to the day when:

"He shall reign forever and ever!

King of kings and Lord of lords!"

No doubt, there are some in this world who will be glad when Christmas is over. They have already eaten too much, spent too much, and travelled too much, and they are just about holidayed out. It should not be that way, however, for those of us who really understand the significance of Christmas. More than a kid gazing at a present under the tree, the coming of Christmas ought to excite us! We who love the glory of Jesus, who have experienced the grace of Jesus, and live faithfully in the gospel of Jesus, have as much reason to celebrate Christmas as Mary and Elisabeth did before the first one ever came!

Let us not lose sight of the wonder of Jesus, especially as we pause to celebrate His birthday.

[i] Card, Michael, Luke: The Gospel of Amazement, (IVP Books, Downers Grove, IL, 2011), Amazon Kindle edition

[ii] MacArthur Jr., John, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Luke 1-5, (Moody Publishers, Chicago, 2009) Amazon Kindle edition