Advent The Story Continues
Joh the Baptist was six months old when Jesus Christ was born. It was in the six month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy that the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, the virgin betrothed to Joseph.
“And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.” Luke 1:26-30
At that appearance He told her how highly favored she was with God and because of that favor she was chosen to be the mother of Messiah. That her pregnancy would be engendered super naturally by the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon her and that her child would be holy and be called the Son of God.
“And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.” Luke 1:30-33 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” Luke 1:30-35
Mary received the greeting of the angel first with fear, but she received the prophecy concerning her with faith and understanding well beyond her years by any reasonable evaluation. She said, to Gabriel in response, “be it unto me according to your Word.”
“And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.” Luke 1:38
This is a most remarkable encounter between a human being and a supernatural being. This bedazzling angel surrounded by radiant light enters the humble home of a virgin girl on what must have been an otherwise most unremarkable day, a day made a bit more special because it was a day leading up to the time of her marriage to Joseph. This must have been an astounding moment. It is no wonder she was afraid.
But then, that fear is transformed into a humble embracing of the gracious words spoken by the angel.
She could not have known fully what she was accepting which was evident by her immediate response,
“And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah; and entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.” Luke 1:39
In this encounter Elizabeth receives the Holy Spirit, evidenced by the babe leaping in her womb. [Luke 1:41] Mary then recounts to her all that has happened to her and worships the Lord with ecstatic praise [Luke 1:46-55]. It is understandable why Mary hastened to Elizabeth and Zacharias’ house when she became pregnant miraculously by the Holy Spirit [Luke 1:35]. Word of Elizabeth’s pregnancy had surely spread quickly throughout the area, if for no other reason than her pregnancy at such an advanced aged. It was nothing short of a miracle. If Mary could share her experience with anyone who would understand what she was experiencing, it would be Elizabeth. And so she did, remaining with her for three months, until her son John was born.
After three months she returned to her home and to her betrothed to share with him what has happened to her. We consider more on this later.
Among the important messages of Mary’s encounters, first with the angel Gabriel, then with the Holy Spirit, then with Elizabeth are these.
With the angel she heard for all generations, the moment of God’s fulfilling promise to bring forth the Seed of Covenant blessing of Abraham that would be the Messiah, the Savior of the world. Her life was suddenly transformed from ordinary to uniquely extraordinary marking the return of God to dwell in the form of mankind born into the world by a virgin fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah.
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14
With the Holy Spirit she was the one young woman on the Earth who was chosen to be the mother of the Savior of all mankind. In her womb for the first and only time in all eternity Heaven and Earth met in one human body in creative unity to welcome God to dwell as a man with mankind. For us this was a type of Jesus coming to dwell in the hearts of everyone who believes on Him for Salvation. As God came to dwell in Mary physically, Jesus and God the Father comes to dwell in us by the power of the Holy Spirit.
With Elizabeth Mary finds mutual understanding and encouragement spiritually, emotionally and prophetically. With Elizabeth Mary is able to worship God and speak prophetically under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. For three months with Elizabeth she is nurtured and supported in her first pregnancy. We know little about Mary’s mother but in many ways Elizabeth appears as a mother figure in her life at a time when she needed that fellowship and support the most. With Elizabeth Mary is not left alone to experience this remarkable event without the wisdom of one to help her through the early days until she becomes able to continue on her own.
Like Elizabeth, God never calls us to any work of ministry or profound act of valor to walk it alone. He and the Father are with us always, and we have the Holy Spirit as our comforter, our empowerment, our guide, our teacher and our promise that what God has promised He will do.
“That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:12-14
“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ…” Philippians 1:6
The touch point of transformation for Mary was in her confession of faith, “Be it unto me according to Your Word.” So, we can say to The Lord our God, toward a like transformation, “Lord, let it be unto us according to Your Word.”