In today’s passage, we get to see a beautiful picture of Elizabeth and Mary, two women from different generations and life stages share in one another’s joy. What would it look like if we could do the same? If we, despite all of our doubt or hurt, could celebrate what the Lord is doing in the lives of others, he could be glorified through our relationships. In order to have a better understanding of the context, we have to read a little further back, beginning in verse 5. Elizabeth was the wife of Zechariah, a priest, and they were “well advanced in years” (Luke 1:18). This verse is slightly comical because, in the original Greek, it could be paraphrased as “my wife already has one foot in the grave.” Zechariah was in the temple burning incense and praying for the people when an angel of The Lord appeared and declared that Elizabeth would have a son—even though Elizabeth was “barren” (Luke 1:7).
Infertility is a tough subject. The pain and long-suffering of yearning for a child, only to be met with empty arms, can be unbearable. In biblical times, it was not only emotionally painful, but it was also a source of great shame. Women who struggled to have children were considered cursed. They were scorned and looked down upon.
On the other side of the spectrum is Mary, a betrothed teenager, visited by an angel of the Lord. She, too, would give birth to a son. The angel shared with Mary that Elizabeth was in her sixth month of pregnancy before he departed. She responded with a faithful, “Let it be so,” and journeyed to Elizabeth’s side.
When Mary greeted Elizabeth, “the baby leaped in her womb” (Luke 1:41). There was no comparison or condemnation. Elizabeth was not bitter or jealous. Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, blessed her.