Summary: Mother’s Day isn’t a day of celebration for all women and Elizabeth experienced what it was like to be childless, to have a child and to lose a child
Mother’s Days for Elizabeth
It is a familiar story and one that fits with Mother’s Day. A woman who wasn’t supposed to be a mother becomes a mother. It is one of the most familiar stories in the Bible but a story that is over shadowed by another story and gets lost. We are all familiar with the first couple of Chapters of Luke, it is the Christmas story.
But the Christmas story didn’t start when the Angel appeared to Mary, no the story began half a year earlier and 100 kms away.
Before the angel appeared to Mary and Joseph he had already appeared in Jerusalem to a man named Zechariah to announce the birth of a boy who would be named John and who would be a cousin to Jesus.
And the story of John, or more important the story of Elizabeth is a story that should resonate with most of the women who are here today.
So let’s begin our journey where our Journey should begin, at the beginning. Historically we are at the end of four hundred years of silence in the Story of Israel. The last recorded words from one of God’s prophets had been written in the book of Malachi and the people of Israel have been waiting to be delivered from the various occupiers of their country.
So let’s start with a little background about Elizabeth.
We know who she was, because it is recorded in Luke’s Gospel, Luke 1:5 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron.
So she was a descendent of Aaron, who was Moses’ brother. And it was from Aaron that the Jewish priesthood was descended.
And then we read in Luke 1:6 Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations. Not only was Elizabeth from a religious family, but she herself was righteous and was careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations. She was good people.
Interestingly enough the Elizabeth who is mentioned here is actually a relative of Mary, Jesus mother. Earlier I called John a cousin because I didn’t know what else to call him. And that’s what he would have been called in those extended families, when you can’t think of anything else to call someone who is kin you call them your cousin. You know if they aren’t your brother or sister, niece or nephew then they have to be your cousin.
When Gabriel appeared to Mary at beginning of the Christmas story he reveals this to her, Luke 1:36 What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age!
In the King James Version it calls Elizabeth Mary’s cousin but the word in the original Greek was much broader than that and simply meant someone who was related to you, somehow. And she may have been her cousin, we just don’t know. What we do know is that Elizabeth was a descendant of Aaron and we are told that Mary was a descendant of David’s so whatever relationship was on their Mother’s side of the family tree.
However I think if you had of talked to Elizabeth she wouldn’t have defined herself by her family background or her behaviour, instead in her private moments I think she would have defined herself with the next statement in this scripture which says, Luke 1:7 They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old.
Now we really don’t know how old she was. Obviously She was old enough for it to be mentioned, but perhaps because it was in relation to her child bearing years it was just relative. After all in that day and culture when women were married and began their families when they were in the teens, if you had been married for twenty years and hadn’t had a child it might be assumed that the baby wagon had passed you by.
When we were in Truro we had two ladies who had children the same time that our daughter Deborah was born, and in 1987 we thought they were old, they were in their mid-thirties, which twenty five years ago seemed old to be having babies. So we don’t know how old Elizabeth was.
But we do know that she experienced the heart ache of not having a child while all of her peers were.
Elizabeth Knew the Heartache of Being Childless Now understand, not everyone wants kids. Sometimes we meet couples who are childless and we jump to the conclusion that they are unable to have children. But that isn’t always the case, and as a boss of mine used to tell me: The only thing you get from jumping to conclusions are sore feet. Some couples choose to not have children for a variety of different reasons, and that is fine, that is there decision, it doesn’t make them less as people and when a woman chooses not to have children, that doesn’t make her less of a woman. And I understand that, some people choose not to own a cat, that I don’t understand. But I digress.