Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 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 is 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, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.” – Luke 1:39-45
Mary had just received the news from the angel Gabriel that she, a virgin, would conceive and give birth to a Son. Not just any son, but the Son of Highest, the Son of God and she was to call Him Jesus. Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua…Jehovah is salvation. Jesus would be given the throne of His father David and of His kingdom there would be no end.
Mary was a young Hebrew girl, about 13 years old, unmarried and a virgin. Never before in the history of the world had a virgin given birth. Never before was God incarnated as a Man. Who would believe her? Who would believe her that an angel, sent forth from the presence of God, had come with news that she would give birth to Israel’s long awaited Messiah? God had been silent for 400 years and now He had sent a messenger to tell Mary the Good News. She was…an ordinary Jewish girl, in a poor town called Nazareth. There was nothing noteworthy or deserving about Mary. Would her parents believe her? What would her fiancé Joseph say…would he believe her or put her away?
Mary arose with haste to go to the one home whose occupants would believe her good news. The angel Gabriel told Mary that her relative Elizabeth, in her old age and barren, was now pregnant. For with God nothing is impossible.
Mary quickly went to the home of Zacharias and Elizabeth in Judea. It was a journey of about 75 miles and it would have taken her several days. The Bible doesn’t tell us exactly when Mary became pregnant. However, we know the Holy Spirit came upon her and overshadowed her. Some time from when Gabriel told Mary the good news to when she arrived at Zacharias and Elizabeth’s home, Mary conceived.
Gabriel had prophesied that even in his mother’s womb John would be filled with the Holy Spirit. That he was sent by God to prepare the way of the Lord. In scripture, we are told that when Mary greeted Elizabeth the babe in Elizabeth’s womb leaped. The Greek word means leap for joy, it’s akin to skipping. This child was sent by God to prepare the way of the Lord. Even while in his mother’s womb, he heralded the coming Savior. He did so without words, a fetus filled with the Holy Spirit…he leaped with joy at the Messiah’s coming.
At that time, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she began to loudly proclaim that Mary was blessed as was the fruit of her womb. Have you ever experienced something that was so exciting that you wanted to shout it from the roof top? A joy and excitement that couldn’t be contained?
Elizabeth recognized that Mary was pregnant with the Lord. Not just any lord…but her Lord and God. She asked why it had been granted to her that the mother of her Lord would come to her. Was she aware of her own sinfulness and unworthiness of being in the Lord’s presence? Elizabeth was humbled, as we all should be when we come into the presence of the Lord.
How gracious of God to confirm the angel’s prophesy. Elizabeth pronounced Mary blessed because she had believed God. She assured her that the things the Lord told her would be fulfilled.
How could Mary know with any certainty that indeed she would give birth to the long awaited Messiah? She was pregnant such a short time and it would be a while before that would be evident.
She could have confidence because God was true to His word. Through the angel Gabriel, God told Mary of Elizabeth’s miraculous conception…and she found it had come to pass. Elizabeth and Zacharias had also received a word from the Lord, through the angel Gabriel…just as Mary did. The baby within Elizabeth’s womb leaped and at that time Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit as she spoke words that confirmed the angel’s message.
Mary stayed three months with Elizabeth and Zacharias. She returned home before John’s birth. What were those three months like? Despite the fact that Zacharias was not able to speak, Elizabeth and Mary had to have communicated to Zacharias the good news that Mary would be the mother of the Messiah. Did they pour over the scriptures that foretold of Israel’s Messiah? Did they go over and over everything that Gabriel had told them? Were they filled with wonder and amazement at all that God was doing through them?
Those three month must have been instrumental in building up and reinforcing Mary’s faith, for soon she would return home to face her parents and her fiancé Joseph with the news that she, a virgin, would give birth to the Messiah. Soon her pregnancy could not be hid…what would the neighbors say?
There many stories and myths throughout various cultures of a virgin birth. How can we be certain that what’s recorded in Luke’s Gospel is true?
Luke wrote his Gospel after carefully compiling eyewitness accounts. Did Luke talk to Mary herself to find out about Jesus' conception? Mary would have been able to relay what had happened to Zacharias and Elizabeth…she had spent three months with them.
We can know with certainty, that Luke’s account is not just another myth or legend because of what would happen 33 years later. Not only Jesus' death on the cross, but his resurrection three days later. Jesus' resurrection was witnessed by hundreds of people during the 40 days that Jesus remained before ascending to heaven. Many eyewitnesses suffered persecution and were killed because of what they knew was true.
Have you believed John’s silent but joyful proclamation that Jesus is Israel’s long awaited Messiah? If not…why not read Luke’s eyewitness accounts of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and decide for yourself if you will believe God?