Summary: Elizabeth was able to see Mary’s situation through the eyes of faith, because she had experienced God’s power herself
Are you ready for Christmas yet? Two weeks from tomorrow. Maybe the reason that it’s so hard for us to get ready for Christmas is because we have to do it every year. If you only had one Christmas to get ready for in your whole life, would you be ready? Well, it would certainly give you more time, wouldn’t it?
During Advent, we’re looking at how various people in the Scriptures got ready for the first Christmas. Last week, we took a look at Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. Today we’ll take a look at how his mother, Elizabeth got prepared for Christmas.
Elizabeth had spent her whole lifetime preparing to be John the Baptist’s Mom. Or more accurately, Elizabeth spent her whole lifetime being prepared by God to be John the Baptist’s mother – and she didn’t even know it.
She had been brought up in a priestly family
She was a righteous and pious woman
In spite of that, she couldn’t have kids
Barrenness was the worst tragedy that could happen to a woman – and to her family
The assurances that Zechariah and Elizabeth were “righteous” people were made in part because – well, they were barren.
And no matter how nice somebody might seem, their friends and family thought, “you have to wonder about them. If they were so good, why God had allowed such a terrible thing to happen to them?”
For years, she and Zechariah had prayed that the Lord would give them a child.
For just as many years, their prayer went unanswered
And perhaps, like many of us, once they could no longer see any natural way that their prayers could be answered, -- i.e., when they got too old to have kids -- they probably gave up praying for that blessing.
After all, if God had not seen fit to give them children when their bodies were young and strong, they wouldn’t expect Him to answer their prayers now -- in their old age.
Elizabeth experienced a lifetime of struggling over her barrenness
In a culture where the only real purpose in a woman’s life was bearing and rearing children, what good was a woman like Elizabeth?
She must have wondered, “What’s wrong with me? Why is God punishing me?”
She was just a drain on the system; a parasite
And then, long after her body was able to conceive naturally, she miraculously became pregnant – not quite like Mary, but a miracle all the same
What was impossible in the natural realm was possible only through God
That is both a thrilling and a humbling truth
It’s thrilling for us to see God work supernaturally in somebody else:
Isn’t that something – Elizabeth and Zechariah having a baby at their age!
But it’s humbling for those who experience it, because it means coming to the end of their own resources
Before we can experience God’s power, we often need to acknowledge that we are powerless
Paul talks about his “thorn in the flesh” – a weakness he just wanted to get rid of until he saw that God’s power was demonstrated through it
Like water flowing through the cracks in a clay pot, God’s grace often flows through our weaknesses and failures
All those years, Elizabeth may have felt God was punishing her; but He was preparing her.
He used her weakness to demonstrate His power!
If she had given birth to John when she was 23, people would have said, “Oh, Zechariah and Elizabeth had a baby. Isn’t that nice?”
But because everyone knew Elizabeth couldn’t have kids, her pregnancy was like a big sign to tell everybody that this was no every day birth – God was doing something and they’d better pay attention to it.
God had done an amazing thing in Elizabeth’s life.
The very word “barren” brings up images of deserts and wastelands, of fruit trees without fruit, of ghost towns with tumbleweeds blowing down empty streets.
Unproductive, empty, desolate – all synonyms for her condition
That was the picture Elizabeth had of her life
And then, miraculously, all that was behind her
When her friends were cuddling their grandchildren, she was buying maternity clothes.
After a lifetime of shame, a lifetime of dashed hopes, she was going to be a mother
She knew what younger mothers didn’t – that this baby had very little to do with her and her husband, and everything to do with the power of God.
God was doing something way bigger than what one little old couple in the Judean hills could do.
No angel had to tell Elizabeth what he had just told Mary, that “With God all things are possible.”
Having seen the miraculous power of God in her own life, Elizabeth began to see everything through the eyes of a renewed faith.