(“John the Baptist?!” Yes. He bore testimony to the Lord’s mother long before he bore testimony to her Son.)
Elizabeth was the first person, aside from Mary, to learn of the coming birth of the Messiah. Her story is found in Luke 1:36-45, 56-61. She and her husband Zechariah also provided a friendly environment for the young mother to begin her pregnancy, a place where she could endure morning sickness and all the other things accompanying early pregnancy. And Mary could make the adjustments without the questions that undoubtedly arose over her condition when she got back home. The two ladies could comfort and support each other. The elderly lady with her pregnancy and the young, probably mid-teen, with hers.
Who was Elizabeth? Luke tells us that she was married to a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. She was of the daughters of Aaron…. And they both were righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years, Luke 1:5-7.
Her husband had a remarkable experience as well concerning his wife’s pregnancy, with a visit from an angel telling him of the conception of his own son. When Mary showed up, he gave mute testimony to the power and truthfulness of God, Luke 1:8-21, 57-64.
Elizabeth. Righteous. Blameless. Elderly. Barren.
That last thing was the only one that bothered her. As we noted in our last post, children were longed-for, a blessing from the Lord, not a burden or an inconvenience. So she was heartbroken, as well as feeling a “reproach among the people,” Luke 1:25.
I wonder what it was like when her hubby came home – and he couldn’t talk! Now, he had had to finish his time in Jerusalem. “The division of Abijah” referred to the division of the priesthood King David had worked out years earlier to organize how and when each priest would serve in Jerusalem at the Temple. It’s said that some priests were able to serve only once in their lifetime, so it was something looked forward to, and not even a visit from an angel nullified the priest’s responsibility. Zechariah was gone for a little over a month.
What was it like when he came home, and had to write down his experiences for Elizabeth? I wonder what her thoughts were as her long-awaited desire for a child seemed about to be satisfied. And the renewal of youthful vigor so they could become parents. To enter again into that joy and enjoyment that God has reserved for married couples, which this world has totally corrupted into something far different than what it’s supposed to be, both as to marriage itself and to marital privilege and responsibility.
When Mary came to Elizabeth’s home, Elizabeth was 6 months along. And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed in the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Blessed is she who believed [that] there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord,” Luke 1:41-45.
So the two generations met, united not only by the ties of family, but also by ties of the Spirit. Mary had conceived by the Spirit, Luke 1:35. Elizabeth’s child, though conceived normally, was to be “filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb,” Luke 1:15. Elizabeth spoke by the Spirit, Luke 1:41.
Pay attention to Elizabeth’s reference to Mary: “the mother of my Lord.” She recognized the unique character, not only of the pregnancy, but of the One Mary was carrying. He was “my Lord”. Elizabeth bowed to Him in spirit even before He was born. How much more should we bow to Him Who has been born – and lived and died and rose again, Who even now, having by Himself purged our sins, is seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high, Hebrews 1:3.
Even as a Babe in the womb, He was “Lord.” He still is.