In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit…” (Luke 1:39-41, ESV)
Modern medical science tells us something I suspect mothers have always known, that little ones in the womb hear and recognize voices. They hear their mother’s heartbeat and surely know when mom’s heart skips a beat. It should come as no surprise then, that little John the Baptist, still in the pre-natal waters of Elizabeth’s womb, jumped for joy when he heard the voice of Mary. But there’s more going on here. Mary is carrying Jesus in her womb, and in a moment charged with the Holy Spirit, little John has already started to fulfill his calling, pointing to Jesus and jumping for joy. Jesus was coming into the world, and even before he was born, the only proper response was joy.
Children are good at receiving. On Christmas morning they open their gifts and leap with pure unmixed joy. We adults, not so much. We’ve had it drummed into us that the “real” joy of Christmas is giving. We give and give and give, and then wonder where the joy went. So, I want to challenge you with this truth: the children have it right. Christmas is about receiving. Jesus was born into the world as pure gift. The only thing for us to do is receive Him with joy and gratitude.
Advent is a time to become children again. There’s still time. We’re about to celebrate the birth of our Savior who came as pure gift to undeserving people. There’s nothing we can do to earn his presence, nothing we can give to repay God for such a gift. Remember the words of Jesus: Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. (John 3:3), and Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3).
This Advent, drop the adult pretense of self-sufficiency and control. Allow yourself to become child-like. Christ was born into the world as God’s pure gift for those who will only receive Him. Jesus said, These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full (John 15:11). That’s something to leap about.
Come, Lord Jesus! Ready my spirit to receive you this day. By your Holy Spirit, help me to become as a child and welcome you with unmixed joy. Reveal yourself to me in your written Word. Amen.