By Denise Loock | December 21, 2019
“They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.” Psalm 145:7
The creak of the door signaled Zechariah’s arrival. He’d been serving at the temple for two weeks. But he hadn’t called out a greeting. Was something wrong? Elizabeth hurried to welcome her husband.
“So glad you’re home,” she said. He smiled and opened his arms to embrace her. His grip seemed stronger, his kiss longer than usual.
As she stepped back, Zechariah pulled a small scroll from the sash of his tunic and handed it to her. Her heart pounded as she read the message. An angel had appeared to Zechariah in the temple … Elizabeth was going to have a child.
“What?” she cried. “But how…?”
Tears glistened as his grin broadened. He pointed heavenward, then lowered his hand, and tapped the scroll.
She read more—his inability to speak, the name to give their … son. She lifted her head and met his gaze. “Oh, Zechariah, after all these years … a son!”
She spoke the name, then its meaning: “John. Jehovah is gracious.”
Oh, yes, God had been gracious. A son. The gift they’d wanted so long.
Truly, Jehovah was a God of wonders.
Five months passed. Excitement built as the baby grew inside her. Some days Elizabeth couldn’t stop crying; on others, she couldn’t stop laughing. Soon after she first felt John move, she received word that her cousin, Mary of Nazareth, was coming for a visit. “News, unbelievable news to share,” the message said.
Elizabeth rubbed her belly. And I have news for you, dear cousin.
A few days later, Elizabeth was mending one of Zechariah’s linen ephods when a voice called out, “Elizabeth, where are you?”
When she stood, John jumped so forcefully that Elizabeth almost fell. Her breathing leveled just as Mary entered the room.
The cousins embraced. Pulling back, Elizabeth studied Mary’s radiant face.
In a flash, God revealed the miraculous news to Elizabeth. Mary’s pregnancy. The identity of the baby she carried. “God has blessed you above all women, Elizabeth said. “You will give birth to the Messiah we’ve awaited so long!”
The story of the angel Gabriel’s visit tumbled from Mary in a rush of words and gestures as the cousins walked to the table, pulled out the chairs, and sat.
Elizabeth listened first with awe, then with understanding. God hadn’t been punishing her or Zechariah through her barrenness. He’d been waiting for the opportune time to give them a son, the one who’d prepare the way for the Messiah. Mary had to be born, grow up, become engaged to Joseph.
At the perfect moment, God’s eternal plan intersected with their lives. How could He bless her in such a miraculous way after all the harsh words she’d unloaded on Him over the years? What kind of God is that patient, that gracious? Only Jehovah.
Elizabeth placed her hand on Mary’s. She wanted to pass on to Mary the gift of affirmation, purpose, and peace God had given her. They gazed at each other for a minute, maybe two—lost in the holy wonder of God’s gifts.
Tightening her grip on Mary’s hand, Elizabeth said, “God will surely bless you for believing what He has promised!”
“I’m overwhelmed by His goodness, stunned by His grace.” Mary wiped a tear from her cheek. “Praise His holy name.”
As Mary and Elizabeth relished God’s gracious gifts, may we also share the gift of His goodness with others this Christmas season. God loves us. He sent His son to redeem us. He can do immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine. His timing is perfect.
Celebrate His goodness.
Next Step: Read Luke 1:5–56. In what ways were Mary and Elizabeth a gift to each other? How can you follow their example this week?