At 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!”
And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”
Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.
Luke 1:39-56 (NIV)
Elizabeth sat on the ground, heels tucked beneath her, and kneaded the dough in the bowl in front of her. A strand of gray hair slipped from beneath her head covering and clung to the perspiration running down her temple. After a moment she grimaced, sat up straight, and rubbed her aching lower back. Then she placed one hand under her heavy abdomen to support it and struggled to her feet.
Slowly, she shuffled over to a bench in a shady corner of the yard and plopped down. She closed her eyes for a moment and laid one hand tenderly across her stomach.
“Oooh!” she cried out in surprise, her eyes flying open as the baby suddenly kicked. The old woman patted the place where the tiny foot had struck and she began to laugh. At first she chuckled softly, then louder and louder until tears rolled down her soft and wrinkled cheeks.
When her laughter subsided, she gazed tenderly down at her abdomen, now still and quiet, and shook her head in awe.
How could this be? How could she, Elizabeth, conceive a child in her old age after a lifetime of barrenness?
Elizabeth turned her face to the sky and held her hands to heaven and prayed: “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever” (Psalm 106:1).
A moment later she walked back across the courtyard, bent to pick up the kneading bowl, and carried it to the beehive-shaped oven. The fire she began earlier that morning had burned down to coals, heating the fragments of pottery that lined the walls of the oven. Expertly, she plucked a portion of dough, rolled it between her palms, flattened it, and then tossed it through the opening where it stuck onto the wall inside. The bread baked quickly. Soon the kneading bowl was empty and a large platter nearby was piled high with fragrant discs of bread.
Elizabeth picked up the platter and gratefully made her way across the yard to the cool interior of her home. A short time later, she sat mending a tear in one of Zechariah’s robes when she heard a familiar voice call out in greeting.
Her cousin Mary stepped through the door. Immediately the baby in Elizabeth’s womb began to leap for joy and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She stood and began to prophesy loudly as she crossed the room to Mary.
“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!” Elizabeth said. “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 1:42–45).
Mary’s eyes filled with tears of happiness. She stepped forward and placed one hand on each side of Elizabeth’s abdomen. The baby rolled and kicked at her touch.
Life. Elizabeth’s long-barren womb was filled with miraculous, abundant life. The angel’s words came back to Mary, driving away all doubt and fear: “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37 ESV).
Mary didn’t understand how she, a virgin, could conceive the child the angel promised. She didn’t know how she would avoid the shame and potentional punishment that accompanied unwed mothers in her culture. Mary had no idea how she would provide for herself and for the child in the long years to come.
But it wasn’t her job to know. It was God’s.
He only asked that she trust Him moment by moment, day by day. Deep inside Mary’s heart, a knot of anxiety and fear un-tangled as she released everything into God’s hands. She took Elizabeth by the hand and led her back to her seat. Then Mary sat on the floor beside her and laid her head against Elizabeth’s knee as tears of relief and surrender flowed down her cheeks. Gently, Elizabeth stroked Mary’s hair, as the young girl lifted her praises to God.
As written by Sherri Gragg in Advent: The Story of Christmas. Connect with Sherri on Instagram and her website.
Advent: The Story of Christmas traces God’s ribbon of redemption – from Eden to Jerusalem – through thirty-one biblical stories. Sherri Gragg’s unique storytelling, infused with cultural accuracy and color, has been described as “Bible stories for adults.”
Her narrative style offers a fresh perspective on the lives of God’s people, both ancient and modern. Advent: The Story of Christmas will enrich personal devotional time during the seasons of Advent and Christmas.
Today marks the second Sunday in the season of Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day. Join us here at (in)courage each Sunday during these weeks as we share excerpts from this beautiful book, learn more about Jesus, and count down to Christmas, together.
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What a beautiful story, told in such a touching way. Thank you for giving us insight to the events that build to earth’s greatest gift, Jesus.
This struck me with beautiful relevance this morning. Thank you for blessing my Sunday morning with this story of faith and hope. As we all know the outcome , “These things prevail. ‘ Faith, Hope and Love, and the greatest of these is Love”. Thank you.
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
So well told. It just reaffirms that Our mighty Heavenly Father can do anything. Nothing is impossible. So if God asks us to something he will a way that we can do it he will equipt us to do it. All we have to do is be like Mary. Trust God know what he doing. Ours is not to ask why. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xx
This was wonderful confirmation to open my email this morning. The memory verse the Lord had led me to teach the kids’ class this morning was Luke 1:37 “For nothing is impossible with God. ” Also, we had just finished up our being thankful series during November and had used Psalm 106:1 (mentioned in the above post).
Beth Williams says
Mary is a prime example of trusting God with the outcome. She didn’t discount that it would happen. It was simply a how you going to make it happen. She was full of trust. Naturally there were some worries & anxiety along the way. God took all that away when she saw Elizabeth. Mary & Elizabeth are proof positive that nothing is impossible with God.