Gabriel had no sooner left Mary’s home than she began to pack. Quickly. Frantically. Eager to get moving toward her cousin’s house. She had to see that swollen belly that symbolized so many years of faith and prayer with her own two eyes. And she couldn’t get there fast enough.
Zacharias and Elizabeth lived in the mountainous hillside of a city in Judah – likely Hebron, 120 miles and three days of travel away from that little shoot-of-a-town called Nazareth. It was also the city where David was first annointed King to the same throne that Gabriel had just finished telling Mary her Holy-Spirit-conceived-Babe would be given. The city where David reigned as King for 33 years. The same number of years Jesus would eventually end up walking this earth. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Mary left in a hurry. And when she arrived at her much older cousin’s house to greet her, the sound of Mary’s voice made Elizabeth’s growing babe leap in her womb. But not the typical kind of movement that happens at that stage of a pregnancy. It wasn’t the average rolling around or the occasional kick. It was an unexpected and very powerful leap within her womb. And immediately, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. That same blindly bright Shekinah-glory-cloud that Gabriel said would be the whereby that created Mary’s miraculous conception. And she greeted Mary with the same words that the angel did just a few days prior, practically yelling the words: “Blessed are you among women!” And she continued with one more addition to that overwhelming phrase. Words that indicated that the “whereby” had already occurred. That Mary, indeed, was pregnant.
blessed is the fruit of your womb
I can imagine that Zacharias stood by, still rendered speechless, watching his wife react to the dramatic movement within her. And I’m sure his own encounter with an angel was replaying in his mind like a movie. Especially the very particular part about the miraculous child that was the answer to their prayers being filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb. What a beautiful sight – mother and still-growing son. Both mutually filled with the Spirit and reacting automatically and simultaneously in the presence of the newly and miraculously conceived top-of-the-highest-tree-Immanuel.
And as he silently took it all in, his pregnant wife continued. Wondering aloud before Mary had even spoken a word to her. “How has this happened to me? That the mother of my LORD would come visit me?” She was excited and animated. Grabbing Mary’s hands and explaining what had just happened to her. How her own babe still growing in her own womb practically skipped like a lamp within her. And the part that I love the most? She didn’t mention her miracle. She didn’t make it about her. Because, in the presence of Jesus, it’s never about us. And then, speaking in a way that only the Holy Spirit could prompt, Elizabeth encouraged Mary’s faith. And confirmed the angel encounter that Mary had likely spent the entire journey trying to convince herself that all these things she was believing couldn’t possibly be real. That they were too good to be true.
blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment
There had been a lot of blessings thrown around in Mary’s direction the last few days. And most of them were the same Greek word Eulogeō. To speak well of. Interestingly enough, it’s where we get the English word for eulogy. But this blessed? It was different. It was supremely and congratulatory blessed. Elizabeth was giving her much younger cousin high and well-deserved praise for achieving something that isn’t easy to do. She congralated Mary for taking God at His Word.
Mary heard the words that Gabriel said. And she believed him. Even further, she relied upon his words, that they would be performed. That the very event of them would verify the promise of them. Because she recognized that they were spoken from the LORD. And she believed Him.
And congratulations were in order.