One of the very fun things about the expanse of our extended family has been seeing the generation of children from my wife’s sisters, along with our five boys, having another generation of the family coming along at the same time. Some of them have been born in the same season of time, just as their first cousin parents were ahead of them. The granddaughter that I had up front with me at the outset of the sermon on Sunday had a little girls sleepover event with her local second cousin last weekend.
It says in the Scriptures that Mary and Elizabeth were cousins, right? It does say that, right? Well, the King James Version says that, though it is a more specific translation of the original word than can be definitively affirmed. The Greek term means “relative,” and could be used to speak of cousins.
Elizabeth was descended from the family of Aaron, whereas Mary was from the family of David. Since this was determined by the fathers, it could be that they were first cousins with mothers who were sisters, but who married men in different families. All we can say for sure is that they were relatives of some sort in some way, each familiar with the other. Mary didn’t say to the angel, “Elizabeth? What Liz are you talking about?” She knew immediately.
And it appears that Mary went quickly to see Elizabeth. Knowing only the region where Zechariah and Elizabeth lived and not the exact town, this would have been a journey of somewhere between 50 to 75 miles. No small trip at that time.
For the first time, Jesus and John are in close proximity to one another. Baby John “leaped” in the womb – I’ve never been pregnant, but that sounds painful! I know I’ve been using a lot of Greek words on you lately, but I couldn’t resist looking at this one. Here’s what it means: LEAP! Only Luke uses it in the New Testament – twice here, and on one other occasion to say “leap for joy” (6:23) … of the reaction Jesus said his followers should have when they are persecuted for association with him.
The filling of the Holy Spirit leads to a most beautiful and profound statement and blessing from Elizabeth.
You have to like these two women. Here are two ladies – one young, one older – who were trusting God in the midst of very unique circumstances. This was the pattern of their lives. They were willing to be used of God for His glory and purposes, in spite of the personal pain it may bring to their lives. They saw themselves as blessed.
The kingdom of God, the church of Christ … through all ages have been blessed by women of such character. It continues to this day; it is a part of our church and our ministry. Churches could not function without the blessings that godly women bring to the family of faith. Beyond the incalculable influences they have in the homes, women make a church function practically in myriads of ways. This extends beyond hospitality to the very ministry of the Word to children and to other women in a host of venues. Y’all are MVPs!
Luke 1:39 – At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”