Elizabeth had been basking in the miracle of a surprise pregnancy late in life when Mary, her much younger relative, arrived at her house. A heavenly messenger had just informed Mary that she had been chosen to carry the Savior of the world.
Mary “went in a hurry” to the home of Elizabeth, the wife of a priest who had been raised in the home of a priest. Perhaps Mary was longing for the stability and peace found in the home of Elizabeth. Perhaps Mary was trying to escape the wagging tongues and the crude remarks made at the village well. Perhaps Mary’s parents sent her to the older and wiser Elizabeth because they didn’t know what else to do with the outrageous story that their formerly perfect young daughter had surely fabricated.
When Mary entered the home of Zacharias and Elizabeth, the baby boy within the womb of Elizabeth, jumped for joy! The instant that John, although unborn, sensed that he was in the presence of Jesus the Messiah, he began to leap for joy!
John, although still in his mother’s womb and unable to see Jesus with his natural eyes, knew that he was in the presence of the Lord. There is only one possible response to the presence of the Lord and that is joy! Elizabeth expressed to Mary that this was no soft little nudging that she felt from the baby within but that it was a gargantuan leap! John was exploding with joy at being in the presence of Jesus!
“In His presence is fullness of joy!” Psalm 16:11
The spirit of John was responding to the Spirit of Jesus Christ where there is always fullness of joy.
Perhaps as the years went by, these cousins would play at one another’s homes. I wonder if every time Jesus walked into the room if John, the lively one, would begin to jump up and down!
His mother, the proper Elizabeth, might have said, “John dear, stop jumping! You are being so lively, son.”
“But mama, I just can’t help it! Every time I am around Jesus my legs just start jumping for joy!” might have been this strong-willed son’s response to the quiet and peaceful ways of his mother.
When Jesus walks into our world, into our lives and into our homes, we must respond with complete joy. Our heart should begin the John-jump!
In His presence is the only place that you will ever experience true and complete joy. Joy is not found in having your children home for Christmas, in giving and receiving mountains of gifts, in decorating the house like a picture in a magazine or in eating culinary concoctions that will satisfy your holiday taste buds. Those earthly delights are all connected to happiness but never to joy. Joy is found in one place and one place alone: in His presence!
Perhaps especially at Christmastime we are guilty of looking for joy in all the wrong places. This Christmas, make room for His presence. Spend time with your friends and family singing the beloved Carols of Christmas; read the story of His birth from the Bible with those you love. The greatest gift you will ever give to someone whom you love is the promise to pray for them.
When Elizabeth told Mary that the baby within her womb “leaped for joy”, the word used to describe this action is the Greek word “skirtao”. The word “skirtao” is used only one other place in the New Testament.
“Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day and leap for (skirtao) for behold,your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets.” –Luke 6:22 & 23
The presence of Jesus will instigate a genuine leap for joy in an otherwise ordinary life. However, we are also expected to leap for joy when our life has fallen utterly and completely apart. When we have been vilified and rejected by people and when we have been victimized by unfair circumstances, that is the time that we are commanded by Jesus to skirtao!! To leap for joy!
There is no logical explanation for this joyful response in the face of emotional pain and deep disappointment but it is the healthiest response for a believer. You can jump! You can do the John-jump at the worst moment of your life because Jesus has promised never to leave you or forsake you.
This Christmas, respond to the joy of His presence especially if you are going through dark events and disappointing circumstances. May I just gently but sincerely tell you that there is really no earthly reason not to respond to Who Jesus is with complete and utter joy? There is no circumstance, person or event that has the power to rob one of His children of the joy of His presence.
Christmas has given us the assurance that while living on earth, we can be the beneficiaries of heaven’s joy! When Jesus came, He paved the way for joy!
Don’t expect the festivities to relieve the pain – Only His presence can do that for you! When Jesus came to planet earth, He paved the way for heaven’s joy to infiltrate our lives.
My prayer for you during this Christmas season is that you will know the joy of the presence of the Lord. I pray that like John you will respond to His presence in the most miraculous of ways. I pray that you will not mistakenly believe that joy is extracted from your circumstances but that you will worship the Baby in the manger and allow your heart to enter fully into the joy of Christmas.
Bible Reading: (click the Bible verse to open in reader)
Let There Be Joy In Me:
What is it in our life that is prohibiting you from doing the “John-jump”?
What are some ways that you can practice the presence of Jesus which is where there is fullness of joy?
If this devotional has been an encouragement to you, would you consider giving a year-end gift to Just Joy! Ministries this Christmas season?