By: Melynda Schauer
Has hope ever looked to you like a pregnant belly? Or felt like morning sickness? Or arrived as a screaming baby?
I can’t stop thinking about Elizabeth and her role in the Christmas story. Her story and her son, John, are linked both relationally and chronologically from the beginning with Mary’s story and Jesus’.
Elizabeth and her younger relative Mary were likely decades apart in age, but both were pregnant at the same time. With graying hair and fine lines, I imagine Elizabeth holding her growing belly with amazement and delight at the Lord’s grace toward her.
The angel who spoke to her husband, Zechariah, told them what would make their son unique:
“He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and the power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” (Luke 1:15b-17)
For 400 years, God had not spoken to the people of Israel through any prophet. Then He breaks His silence with this announcement about a baby that will be born to an old, barren couple! Life will arrive where there had been nothing before. The angel’s message is about an answered prayer for this particular couple and an answered prayer for an entire nation. The answer comes in the form of a baby who will grow up to prepare the Lord’s people for the One coming behind him: Jesus.
After Mary receives the visit from the angel telling her she will give birth to Jesus, she goes “with haste” to Elizabeth’s house, already pregnant. Elizabeth said when she heard Mary’s greeting, “The baby in my womb leaped for joy.” (Luke 1:44)
She loudly tells Mary, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:42-43)
Faithful, righteous, blameless, 6-months-pregnant Elizabeth recognizes what hardly anyone knows yet: her relative Mary is carrying the son of God in her womb; and her unborn son John is already leaping in the womb with joy at His existence!
They’re both expectant with hope.