Share in Their JoyAt that time, Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “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 the Lord would fulfill His promises to her!”Luke 1:39-45
For context, read Luke 1
We have read several stories of barren women in the Bible who God blesses with a surprise pregnancy in their old age. And we get to read another one today! This time, her name is Elizabeth. Her husband, Zechariah was a priest and Luke tells us in verses 6 and 7
that both Elizabeth and Zechariah were righteous in the sight of God but they were never blessed with a child.
Zechariah was on duty at the temple and had been chosen by lot (or rather, by the providence of God) to burn incense in the Holy Place. It was no mistake that the lot fell to Zechariah. God had something in store for him. The same angel of the Lord that would soon appear to Mary (Gabriel), appeared to Zechariah and told him that his prayers have been heard. Elizabeth would bear him a son, even in his old age, and they are to call him John. The angel told Zechariah that John was to be set apart for special service to the Lord and that he would be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. John’s job was to prepare the people for their coming Messiah.
Zechariah’s first reaction to this amazing news? Doubt. Understandably, he questioned how this could be because he and Elizabeth were both well past the childbearing years. And yet, we all know that what seems impossible to us is always possible with God. Because of this doubt, Gabriel said that Zechariah would be unable to speak until Elizabeth gave birth to their baby.
At this point, I wonder what Elizabeth was thinking. Was Zechariah somehow able to explain what Gabriel had said to him? How did he communicate to her the amazing thing God had promised to them? Maybe he wrote her a letter? The Bible doesn’t tell us any of those details. But it does say that when Elizabeth became pregnant, she rightly attributed this miracle to God. In verse 25
she proclaimed, “The Lord has done this for me. In these days He has shown His favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.” (Remember that barren women in this culture were considered cursed.)
When Elizabeth was 6 months pregnant, the angel Gabriel returned, this time to Elizabeth’s cousin Mary and told her that she would become pregnant as well. With the Messiah! When Gabriel mentioned that Elizabeth was also pregnant, Mary hurried off to visit her.
Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit as soon as Mary entered her home. Even before Mary had a chance to tell her the great news, Elizabeth began to praise God and proclaimed that Mary was blessed among women. Elizabeth said that her baby leaped for joy in her womb! The Holy Spirit prompted John to recognize Jesus as his Lord when they both were still in the womb. It’s that amazing!
Now, Elizabeth could have been jealous. Why did Mary get to give birth to the Messiah and not her? She could have been hurt that Mary was stealing her big moment. She could have tried to compete with her about whose news was the biggest deal. But instead, she chose to praise God for the joyful news of her cousin and friend. She knew that God had blessed them both beyond belief and there was plenty of joy to go around.
It says that Mary stayed with Elizabeth for 3 months. Unfortunately, what they did and what they talked about together during those 3 months is not recorded in Scripture. Still, what a blessing it must have been to have each other during that unexpected season of their lives. Elizabeth went on to give birth to John the Baptist. In verse 58
it says, “her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared in her joy.” Just as she had rejoiced with Mary, so her family and friends rejoiced with her.
The WORD about women in the story of Elizabeth is we are called to share in the joy of others. We are called to encourage, not compete with, the women around us. Elizabeth had been greatly blessed with her son, John. But she was also given the opportunity to bless and mutually encourage the mother of her Lord. Sisters, God made us for this type of community. Let’s share in the joy with those around us this week. Reflect
Is there someone around you that you can be like Elizabeth to this week? Someone you can rejoice with and be an encouragement to?Pray
Father, I want to be like Elizabeth - full of the Holy Spirit and sharing in the joy of the people you have placed in my life. May my first reaction to the joyful news of others be praising You on their behalf and encouraging them as we walk through seasons of life together. Amen.