“As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.” Luke 1:44
Elizabeth was overjoyed! When she woke this morning, she recognized that her pregnancy could not be hidden and would now be evident to everyone. She had been in seclusion for five long months, wanting to hold this miracle close to her heart and not wanting the ridicule of mocking women to mar her joy. The unkindness and snide remarks about her barrenness should have rendered her immune to any further taunts, but she knew no one would believe she was pregnant. She and Zechariah were past the time of life when that could be a reality, and the jeers would have targeted her mental stability as another point of shame and disgrace.
But today, all that would end! Elizabeth placed her hand tenderly on her slightly swollen abdomen and smiled. She paused to remember that day, over six months ago, when Zechariah came home from his duties at the temple, pale, hardly able to stand, and unable to speak at all. With trembling hands and tears pouring down his cheeks, he pulled out the writing tablet and with signs and words he described his encounter with the angel of Lord. She was grateful to be able to read and understand the words Zechariah wrote, thankful for all the nights he had spent teaching her to read the scriptures. Dumbfounded and in awe, she could scarcely take it in. Her barren shame was to end, and they were to have a son whom they would call John and who would be used of the Lord.
Elizabeth never doubted the promise given to Zechariah and was, therefore, not surprised when she realized she was pregnant. As Zechariah remained mute, she treasured the promises from this vision just as she treasured everything about her pregnancy, even the morning sickness she suffered through in the early months. She could hardly wait now to go to the marketplace when her pregnancy would surely be recognized with surprise by the meddlesome women. In fact, she realized suddenly, she didn’t care what they would say anymore. The Lord had done this for her, shown her His favor and taken away her disgrace. That was all that mattered.
Opening her door that sun-filled morning, Elizabeth noticed a small group of people making their way up the hill towards her home. Shielding her eyes, she let out a cry of delight when she recognized her young cousin Mary leading the way. She hadn’t seen anyone from her family in such a long time, most of them living in the region of Galilee, which was almost 80 miles from the hill country of Judea where she and Zechariah lived. None of them even knew she was pregnant, and she couldn’t imagine why Mary had come and why she was alone, for it was quickly evident that the others with her were continuing on their way after seeing Mary up the steep hill.
As Mary entered her home, Elizabeth’s greeting was interrupted, and all her questions were answered in an instant. For as Mary quietly spoke Elizabeth’s name, the baby in her womb leaped. This was not the fluttering and poking she was becoming accustomed to, but a sudden and enthusiastic jumping, as if in joyful recognition. Then, in a loud voice she hardly recognized as her own, Elizabeth proclaimed, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.” Then, breathless with wonder, the women tearfully collapsed in each other’s arms.
The marketplace was forgotten that day as Mary poured out the news of her encounter with the angel Gabriel and her subsequent immaculate conception, and Elizabeth shared her own miraculous story. Both women were overwhelmed with praise to God for His mercy and His grace. If anyone could understand the birth announcement given by an angel, it was Elizabeth and Mary. If anyone could understand the power of God to give “life to the dead and call things that are not as though they were,” (Romans 4:17b) it was Elizabeth and Mary. If anyone could recognize, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the presence of the Living Lord, it was Mary and Elizabeth and her unborn son, John.
Like pregnant women everywhere, Elizabeth and Mary could not stop talking, sharing every moment with hearts of grateful joy. For the next three months, the bond these women shared was forged in worship and exaltation. Their hearts were bound forever in recognition of the Savior, the promised Messiah, and the one who would go before Him to prepare His way. For these two women, the impossible was reality, their blessing incomprehensible, their praise magnificent, their recognition complete.
Jesus, thank You for always making Yourself known in this dark and dying world. Help me to recognize You at work around me and respond in obedient and joyful praise. I pray that I would know the truth and be a woman who believes fully that what you have said will be accomplished. Let there be found no doubt in me.
- What “impossible” is God asking You to trust Him in faith to accomplish?
- How does recognition of the Savior fill your heart with joy this Christmas?
- How has God shown favor in your life and how will you respond to Him?
- Who do you have in your life that strengthens and encourages your faith, and what will you do to celebrate that gift?©