Luke tells us that his purpose in writing is to give an orderly and full account of the life of Jesus.
It’s far from a dry “news report” though. It’s full of personal encounters, emotion and delightful detail.
I love the description of a (probably slightly perplexed and perhaps frightened Mary) and her older cousin Elizabeth:
Afterward, Mary arose and hurried off to the hill country of Judea, to the village where Zechariah and Elizabeth lived. 40 Arriving at their home, Mary entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 At the moment she heard Mary’s voice, the baby[a] within Elizabeth’s womb jumped and kicked. And suddenly, Elizabeth was filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit! 42 With a loud voice she prophesied with power:
“Mary! You are a woman given the highest favor
and privilege above all others.
For your child[b] is destined to bring God great delight.
43 How did I deserve such a remarkable honor
to have the mother of my Lord[c] come and visit me?
44 The moment you came in the door and greeted me,
my baby danced inside me with ecstatic joy!
45 Great favor is upon you, for you have believed
every word spoken to you from the Lord.”
Luke 1: 39-45 TPT
It’s unclear from the text but it could be that Elizabeth and Mary were close before they shared the secret that they both carried sons of promise. For some reason Mary went quickly to her after the visit from Gabriel.
Was it to buy time before her belly gave her away? Was it to seek godly counsel or confirmation from an older, wiser woman? Was it simply because she had heard Elizabeth was also pregnant when it seemed unlikely it could be?
I don’t know.
What I do know is that every person in the nativity story was a real live flesh-and-blood individual who was as trapped in time as I am. They had to walk out events as they happened and didn’t know the end from the beginning even if they’d been given promises from an angel.
God provided extraordinary confirmation for them both. What a beautiful moment!
Not only did John leap in Elizabeth’s womb, the Holy Spirit came upon her and gave her a message for young Mary. Mary was “highly favored”, chosen as a vessel of honor and blessing.
I imagine Mary held those words close to her heart over the next many months when whispers and sideways glances followed her everywhere.
I know I hold close the words the Lord has given me.
When I read Scripture, the Holy Spirit often quickens my spirit to take note and take hold of a verse or two. He whispers, “This one is for YOU”, to my heart.
I underline it, write it down, meditate on it, come back to it and rest in the truth that if God says it, it’s true.
Mary was highly favored because she believed “every word spoken to her by the Lord”.
Jesus was born a single time-no other woman will ever again carry God’s Son in her womb. But we can each carry God’s word in our hearts.
When we do, we too are vessels of honor and blessing.
- Have you ever stopped a moment and thought about how the people in Bible stories were, in fact, real people? If not, do it now. How does that impact your understanding of the text?
- Mary was an unmarried virgin who became pregnant. No matter that Gabriel assured her it was by the Holy Spirit, I imagine others thought something very different. Why do you think she went to see Elizabeth?
- Which of Elizabeth’s words to Mary mean the most to you?
- Has the Holy Spirit ever quickened verses that you read? How do you make a note of them? Have you ever come back to them later and realized God used them in a special way to encourage your heart?
Sometimes trusting the promises is a struggle. I want to believe, I try to believe but no amount of willful conjuring on my part can make me believe.
But for this, I have Jesus and your Holy Spirit. Like Elizabeth and Mary, You quicken your life, hope and power within me.
You have given me your word. Your word is truth. I can rest assured in the promises that have been fulfilled and know the others will come to fruition when the time is right.
Help me believe every single word You have spoken. Help me be a vessel of honor-to hold close and hold dear what you plant in my heart.