Mary and Elizabeth: An exceptional relationship
By paying attention to what is written about Mary and Elizabeth in Luke 1, we will discover that these two women were exceptionally God-fearing and that their mutual relationship was highly exalted and exceedingly loving—a shining example for all times and generations.
When Mary was notified of the great grace that was to befall her, she made haste (Luke 1:39) to share her joy with Elizabeth.
The way in which Elizabeth received this greeting testifies of her unqualified purity of heart. Elizabeth had also found grace with God; she would also receive a son about whom great things had been said. But even greater grace had befallen Mary, for she was to bring the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ, into the world. We can say that Mary was greater than Elizabeth. If there had been envy in Elizabeth’s heart, she would not have appreciated Mary’s announcement very much. She would also have doubted its truthfulness. However, now she believed immediately without delay, and she rejoiced immeasurably that Mary was entrusted with more than her.
She did not just answer that it made her happy nor that it made her very happy or extraordinarily happy, but she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women [and above me] …” She rejoiced so much over the grace that was given to Mary and the honor that was bestowed on her by God that at the very moment when the sound of Mary’s greeting sounded in her ears, the babe leaped in her womb for joy! (Luke 1:44) This is an exceptional example of how free from envy a heart can be.
Mary remained with Elizabeth for about three months, and then she returned to her house. That was some meeting! That was brotherly love! The words they exchanged with each other during the first minutes they were together (and that are repeated in Luke 1) are precious. It is the very essence of the “Sermon on the Mount” that Mary speaks (even before Jesus was born into the world). Imagine the hearts filled with content they must have had! Imagine what they were able to draw from the good treasures of their hearts in the course of 90 days!
How they must have loved each other! How sincerely they must have loved God! How they must have cherished the thought of the birth of their sons! What a passionate interest they must have had in godly fear as well as in the salvation of mankind! Each of them was to receive their son, and both of them would be indispensable instruments of salvation.
Jesus and John the Baptist: Another exceptional relationship
Just as the mutual relationship between these two mothers was so blessedly outstanding, so was also the relationship between their two sons, between Jesus and John the Baptist. For just as Elizabeth was so gloriously saved from envy, so was also her son because he said, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” Luke 3:16. He also said, “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:29-30.
Timothy had “inherited” faith from his mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5), and John the Baptist had “inherited” a heart free of envy from his mother Elizabeth. What a blessing it is to receive such an inheritance.
How precious each God-fearing and wholehearted soul is! It affects the succeeding generations—generation after generation—even to 1,000—one thousand generations! (Exodus 20:6)
God be praised for Mary and Elizabeth! Oh, that there might be many more like them!
This article has been translated from Norwegian and was originally published with the title “Mary and Elizabeth: Their mutual relationship” in BCC’s periodical Skjulte Skatter (Hidden Treasures) in November 1932.
© Copyright Stiftelsen Skjulte Skatters Forlag
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