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The Christmas Story: Elizabeth

ďZechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in Godís eyes, careful to obey all of the Lordís commandments and regulations.Ē1

The first major characters in the gospel of Luke are Zechariah and Elizabeth. In addition to being devout Jews, both came from an impressive Hebrew heritage. Zechariah was a member of the priestly order of Abijah, and Elizabeth was also from the priestly line of Aaron, brother of Moses. While the story of Zechariah is a well-known passage, today we will be focusing a bit more on Elizabeth.

According to Luke 1:36, Elizabeth was a close relative of Mary. And although Elizabeth was blameless in Godís eyes, she was barren and unable to conceive children, which in those days was seen as a sign of divine disfavor and a great deal of shame was attached to being childless. This shame was felt more acutely by women, as childbearing was considered to be an important role of women in Bible times. However, just as God had been faithful to the many women before her, who had also been barren, God would give Elizabeth a son.

Like with Mary, the angel Gabriel was also the one to announce the birth of John the Baptist to Zechariah. But due to Zechariahís doubt, he became mute and wasnít able to speak until after Johnís birth. In contrast to her husband, there is no narrative indication of disbelief from Elizabeth when she hears of her pregnancy. Instead, her response is one of praise for the Lordís faithfulness in allowing her to conceive and removing her disgrace of having no children.

It is important to realize that everything comes together in Godís time. Elizabeth had longed for children for so long, and now that she was older in age, she may have thought it was too late. However, everything was part of Godís plan. John the Baptist, Elizabethís son, would have the honor of preparing the way for Jesusí ministry and would be the one to baptize Jesus as well.

When Gabriel visits Mary and announces Jesusí birth, he also makes mention of Elizabethís pregnancy, almost to reassure Mary that nothing is impossible for God. Soon after, Mary goes to visit Elizabeth and when they meet, Elizabethís baby leaps in her womb and she was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:41). God silenced Zechariah for a season, but Elizabeth chose to use her voice to honor and worship God during this time. She is also a source of encouragement to Mary and confesses Maryís unborn baby as ďmy LordĒ (Luke 1:43). Elizabeth was righteous before God, and praised Him always, believing that God always does what he says.

Suggested prayer: Dear God, thank you for such inspiring examples of faith, trust, obedience, and praise. Like Elizabeth and Mary, help me always believe that you do what you say and praise you in the process. Your timing is perfect, and you are always working everything for our good. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. In Jesusí name, amen.  

  1. Luke 1:6 (NLT).

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Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.