“How could this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For you see, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped for joy inside me. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill what he has spoken to her!” (CSB – Read the chapter)
How trusting of a person would you say you are? That depends on a number of different factors, doesn’t it? It could be that your parents weren’t so good about keeping their word to you, and so you default to believing everyone around you is lying. Maybe you’re a very trusting person by nature, but that trust runs along the edge of naiveté and has gotten you in trouble a time or two. There’s a balance point here. You don’t want to be blindly trusting because people do lie, but if you don’t trust anyone, you can’t have any relationships. There is one person, though, who should always have our trust.
Imagine that you are Mary heading to stay somewhere in the hill country of Judea with your cousins for a few weeks after hearing the angel’s announcement and discovering perhaps within a few days that it was true. Think about all the things that might be swirling around in your head. There had to be so many unanswered questions about what the days ahead of you held. There would have been much uncertainty to be sure. And fear. After all, you were hurrying off to stay with your cousin Elizabeth in order to escape at least what may have been the immediate consequences of your community’s discovering your situation and their being decidedly unlikely to believe your story about it.
And then this.
Mary walked in the room, greeted Elizabeth, and God did something only He could have done. He offered her a powerful reassurance that she was on the right track. And I say this was something only God could have done on purpose. Think about Elizabeth’s greeting. She didn’t simply say, “Hello, Mary, it’s good to see you.” This was much richer in theological weight. She said, “How could this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Think about that for a minute. How could she have known something like this? There really aren’t very many good options other than God’s revealing it to her directly.
As Mary walked into the room where Elizabeth was, the latter fires off this, frankly, prophetic word of excitement and praise. For Mary, this had to mean more than the world. This was a second, independent confirmation that what the angel said was true. And this time it didn’t come by directly heavenly means. It came from a family member who was experiencing her own miraculous pregnancy. This would have carried a lot of weight.
This next bit doesn’t have a lot to do with where I’m going in this post, but it’s in the text and worth considering for at least that reason. Elizabeth tells Mary that “when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped for joy inside me.” Now, what are we to make of that? Someone approaching this from an entirely anti-supernatural frame of reference might conclude that babies move during pregnancy, and that Elizabeth’s baby happened to move then. It is an interesting coincidence, sure, but nothing more than that. It may not surprise you to learn I don’t support that view.
The real weight of this statement is that Elizabeth’s unborn baby recognized his Lord while they were both still in the womb. What’s more, this happened when Mary’s child wasn’t likely more than about a month along in his development. Whatever your position on the humanity of unborn life happens to be, this is a story you simply must take into account. Yes, this was a divine occurrence. We can’t deny that. But the fetal development of these two children was happening entirely normally. If a child has a humanity that can be recognized that early on in his development, perhaps aborting a child in the womb is something we should consider morally unthinkable no matter how far along he is (or isn’t as the case may be).
Where Elizabeth lands, though, in what she says next, is what I want to make sure you don’t miss this morning. She speaks a word of blessing over “she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill what he has spoken to her!” Mary’s whole journey was fueled by the fact that she was willing to believe the word of the Lord and act accordingly. If you think about it, although God certainly could have accomplished His plans for our salvation by another means, your relationship with Jesus hinges on the fact that a teenage girl was willing to believe God would do something that made absolutely zero sense because He told her He would do it. The first season of Advent came to an end, and we now have the celebration of Christmas because someone was willing to believe God’s word to her.
This is one of those stop and think moments in our journey. Yes, Mary had been told by the angel and now Elizabeth that she was going to give birth to the Messiah, but she didn’t know where this journey was going to take her. She didn’t know what it was going to look like. She didn’t know whether it was going to be easy or hard and how much of either. She simply took God’s word to her at face value and lived her life like it was true. And the world has never been the same. I wonder: Has God spoken a word to you that seemed hard to believe in the moment? Maybe this came directly, but more likely it came through the Scriptures. More importantly, what did you do with this word?
The fact is, God has plans to accomplish kingdom growth through your life that would absolutely knock your socks off if you could see the whole picture of it. But that growth – at least as far as your role in it is concerned – hinges on the very important question of whether or not you are willing to believe Him. It may not make any sense given the moment you are in, but God’s words often don’t. That doesn’t make them untrue. It just makes them a challenge to believe. The thing is, though, He has a very good (not to mention lengthy) record of fulfilling His words in their entirety every single time He speaks them. My friends, there is a blessing to be found in believing God will do what He has said He will do and living our lives accordingly. I hope today that you will find it.