“40 … (Mary) entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, ‘God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. 43 Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? 44 When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. 45 You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.’” (Luke 1:40b-45 NLT)
You have likely read the story of Elizabeth in the Bible, the mother of John the Baptist. But if not, stop right now and read the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 1. Although the entire story is amazingly miraculous, I only have the time and space to point out a few key extraordinary takeaways that seem to jump off the page.
Initially, I am amazed at the fact that despite being barren her entire adult life (and the Bible is clear that she was a very old woman), Elizabeth was “righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations.” (Luke 1:6 NLT) In verse 25, she even mentions the fact that her barrenness had brought about disgrace. That is not only inspirational and encouraging on its own, but based on cultural norms regarding many pious religious leaders in Bible times, it is especially noteworthy. The fact that God called her righteous when she came from the priestly line of Aaron himself, the brother of Moses, speaks to the fact that she worshiped and sought the God of the law rather than the law itself. Her life represented what Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth years later when he said, “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:6 NLT) She was way ahead of her time. Even though Jesus had not yet come onto the earthly scene, she seemed to already understand the things of the Spirit. She knew that her spiritual eyes were more reliable than the ones on her face. Oh that I could live with such passionate focus: that His eyes would become more keen than my physical ones.
Also, I love the interaction between Elizabeth and Mary in our key verse above. Mary was young. She was pregnant and unwed. She was kin, and her questionable reputation could possibly affect Elizabeth and her family’s status. Yet she immediately recognizes the stirring of the Spirit in her womb the moment she sees her young expecting cousin. Her famous words, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed,” would be the same thing as what we would call in pentecostal circles today as ‘shoutin’ in the Spirit’ because verse 42 says she “gave a glad cry and exclaimed.” Again, instead of focusing on what her natural eyes might see, she chooses to praise God for what her spirit knows: that she is witnessing a once-in-a-lifetime miracle moment. She chose to encourage Mary instead of question God. As a sinner saved by grace, I can tell you that that skill doesn’t come easy. I would submit to you that she had practiced encouraging others rather than questioning God many times before she was presented with this monumental God-moment.
And it is evident in verse 60 that Elizabeth wholly and completely trusted God and her husband. When her neighbors and relatives came to celebrate, they all wanted to name her baby after his father, which was practically a given for the first-born son at that time. It makes me chuckle that the Bible says that the guests wanted to name him. If you think cultural family and peer pressure is something new, this is proof that it is not, and that it has always woven strong throughout the tapestries of our cultural lives. It just presents itself differently with each generation and in each family or region. But Elizabeth stood her ground. She literally tells them all, “No!” She knows that God has a plan and that many times, His will doesn’t make sense to the general populace. And I believe that she probably also knew that her husband wanted to follow God’s instructions and she was determined to follow his example and do things God’s way. Even in the face of cultural persecution. All while knowing full well the risk of her personal reputation that would likely be involved. She wasn’t passive about it either. She literally had to stand up and declare the truth aloud in the face of controversy. She refused to be swept away in the cultural tide. Oh that I too would be bold with the truth, regardless of the consequences.
Father, I sometimes give in to the temptation to try and control my circumstances instead of fully trusting that You have a plan. I also tend to worry about my earthly reputation instead of leaving it wholly in Your capable hands. And I have been known to give in to outside pressures more times than I would like to admit. Thank You for loving me anyway. Thank You for continuing to teach me, despite my epic failures. Thank You for allowing me to be a part of Your master plan here on earth, even though I don’t deserve it. Continue to remind me to trust You in every situation. I pray that I will grow and learn and reflect Your glory more and more with each passing moment. Use me for Your glory, despite my shortcomings. In the precious name of Your Son, Jesus. Amen.
Listen to a live version of Bryan and Katie Torwalt’s “Holy Spirit” HERE for more encouragement in trusting the Spirit.
Leave a Reply