36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
I’m sure it was an incredible comfort for Mary to have someone to confide in and rejoice with over the miracles God was performing. God desires for us to know that all of creation belongs to him. All of time, space, matter, and reality originate with Him and work in obedience to His will. Elizabeth and Zacharias were old and she was called “barren” meaning without the ability to bring forth life, empty. God used the deadness of Elisabeth’s womb to declare the power of God who can create life out of nothing. Her son John was honored to introduce the world to Jesus Christ, and to bring multitudes to repentance that they might recognize their king and accept Him as their Lord and Savior. His mother Elisabeth was honored to be a part of the story and to give God praise and honor as He alone could have accomplished this miracle in her life.
In the cases of Sarah, the wife of Manoah, Hannah, Elisabeth, and also Mary; when God desired to focus attention on His incredible acts of divine grace, He used the sign of a miraculous birth. When describing our own soul’s salvation to Nicodemus in John chapter three Jesus said, “you must be born again.” What is notable about a birth? The one being born is completely and utterly dependent on another. God gave His son, it was the loving act of a Father and the obedient devotion of the Son that brought about our “new birth.” We are completely dependent on God for our life, breath, calling, cleansing, our present, and our eternity.
37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.
God loves to remind us that He is not restrained as we are, He can and will do all that is in His plan to accomplish. God asked Sarah and Abraham when He challenged their faith with the promise of a son, “Is anything too hard for God?” A year later baby Isaac’s cries rang out the answer - of course not. Paul wrote in Ephesians, “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us…” In Romans chapter four Paul spoke of the promise of God to Abraham and said, “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.” Elisabeth carrying John in her old age was a living miracle and a testimony that brought glory to God. Just like Abraham, Elisabeth’s life became a witness and a blessing to everyone around her.
38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
Mary accepted and obeyed the word of the Lord, she was willing to do his will. All would do well to follow her example in this. I’m sure it was an incredible comfort for Mary to have someone to confide in and rejoice with over the miracles God was performing.
39 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah;
40 And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.
41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:
Elizabeth’s pregnancy was a reassurance from God. The miraculous response of John, inside his mother’s womb was another. Both women rejoiced in the word of God and in his will for them. An unborn baby responded with joy at the announcement that the Lord was in his presence. This is strong evidence that despite the claims made by scientific “authorities,” there is much we do not comprehend about the humanity of the unborn. This isn’t a fairy tale, it is the recounting of the experiences had by those who were there.
Which miracle is more thrilling, the response of the babe or the filling of the Holy Spirit? In those days, the Holy Spirit acted at specific times and He inspired men to speak and perform God’s will, but this filling of Elisabeth is a wonderful thing. She began prophesying to and about Mary under God’s inspiration. God is using a woman who most have regarded as useless and empty to declare his marvelous works.
42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
She is honored to be in the presence, not of Mary, but of the Son of God. The Holy Spirit revealed to her that her Lord was there. From Genesis, God had promised a redeemer, a hero, to save His people. The faithful had treasured His word and walked in faith according to His will and waited to see it come to pass. I love that she calls Mary blessed. All too often modern theologians tell us Mary was afraid and confused, that she suffered to know that she was carrying a child. According to scripture, that is not the case. Mary praised God for keeping His promise and of the honor and the victory that she would have because God had chosen her to serve Him. Elisabeth also declares her “blessed” and rejoices at the news that she has been made a part of God’s rescue plan.
Elisabeth marvels that God would pay her a visit, she doesn’t feel worthy to be in the presence of the one Mary is carrying. I feel the same way, I am dumbfounded that the Lord of Glory would choose to be present with me. I am not worthy that He should save me, keep me, hear me and most of all love me, but He does. He has chosen to come to me, and I am unspeakably thankful.
44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.
45 And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.
Blessed are those who believe today also. If you want to see God move, it starts with believing what He has said. To be blessed literally means to be happy. Life is so much better when we know that God is in charge and that he is unrestrained in his power. To know that every word He has spoken He will perform and that we can rest confidently in His love and mercy causes life to be a joyful and exciting adventure. I don’t know why anyone would want to live outside of a relationship with the king of all kings. Our great joy is watching Him work for us and through us.
I hope you are rejoicing today, knowing that God has filled you with His Holy Spirit when you were born again. Also knowing that He has made great and precious promises to his church about what our future holds both here on earth and in eternity in Heaven. I hope that you know that every moment you are alive you are a part of his plans and if you believe Him, you will see the miraculous goodness appearing all around you. But if you are not a child of God, I hope that you will believe the witness of Elisabeth and her son John, that Jesus is the Messiah. He is the answer to the lost and desperate situation that we are in. I hope you smile thinking of two women, one young and the other older, filled with joy, tearfully and loudly praising God’s name and thanking Him for the privilege of being able to serve Him. I hope most of all that you’ll surrender yourself to God’s will, because it “is not His will that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” When you do, you’ll see God perform the miracle that He had planned long before He made Heaven and Earth, to make you a part of His family forever.
58 And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her.
And when you know the Lord, and you know that He has pardoned and forgiven you of all of your sin, you will be unable to contain the news. Just like Elisabeth shared the fabulous good news that God was working in her life with her neighbors, your neighbors will also catch wind of the changes God is performing in you, because you believed. That’s how it works, we come to God and find Him true and faithful, we share the story with those around us and they also find that He is good to his word and we rejoice together. That’s the gospel, recognizing that through nothing we have done God has chosen us to be his family and that He has given us the greatest gift in existence, His Son, who was willing to do all that it took to rescue us from Hell and give us access to God. Then to know that in his goodness and love He has made us a part of the story. If you know, you know, and you are smiling ear to ear at the picture God paints of Mary and Elisabeth’s joy and earnest expectation of Christ. Merry Christmas!
Thank you for studying with us! God bless!