...Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? ...And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. (Luke 1:42-43,45)
When the virgin, Mary, was found to be with child, it should have been a sign to the nation Israel (Isa. 7:14). But we’re only told of three who actually believed it: Joseph, Elizabeth, and Zacharias. One can only imagine what others thought. Later, after the birth of the miracle Baby, there would be adoring shepherds; and after that, worshipping wise men would come from the East. But when young Mary of Nazareth became pregnant, there was no baby shower, and the only one who truly rejoiced with her was her cousin, Elizabeth. She came very close to losing her beloved Joseph (Matt. 1:19), who was pitied, no doubt, because of his bride’s condition.
Theologians and scholars down through the ages have spoken and written eloquently of the blessed virgin, but it would take a woman to truly understand her, I think. We who have known the feeling of another life pulsating within our own can almost imagine what it must have been like for Mary to have the Origin of Life growing within her womb. When the angel Gabriel appeared to her, she was “troubled,” unable to comprehend how she could be “with child,” having never known a man (v. 34). Whether she was unfamiliar with the Old Testament prophecy (the Jews were in a bad state spiritually), or for some reason assumed that even though the Messiah would be born of a virgin, a man would somehow be involved, the angel patiently explained to her that the Holy Ghost would come upon her, and the power of the Highest would overshadow her (v. 35).
Did this young girl understand all the implications of what was being asked of her? Could she foresee the pain as well as the honor? One would hardly think so. But who of us is ever fully aware of what lies ahead when we say yes to the will of God? To me, Mary’s salient virtue is her submissive spirit, and, more importantly, her submissive will. “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (v.38). Once the angel had assured her it could be done (“For with God nothing shall be impossible” (v.37), as far as she was concerned, it would be done. One young girl was submissive to the will of God, and the world was presented with a Savior.
The angel had told Mary that her cousin, Elizabeth, though much older than she, was, nevertheless, also expecting a baby. This, too, was a miracle, though not of the same magnitude as her own. Suddenly, Mary longed to see her cousin—needed to see her, in fact. She would make the journey, and here she would find affirmation of what the angel had told her. Their visit would be more than two expectant mothers exchanging symptoms. For within one womb, the Son of God lay sheltered; while in the other, His forerunner waits expectantly for His arrival.
- to be continued -