“At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” (Luke 1:39–45, NIV84)
Who could blame Mary? Wouldn’t we all want confirmation that what we just experienced was real and not a figment of our imagination? So what does she do? She goes to her relative Elizabeth’s house. The angel Gabriel had told her that Elizabeth had become pregnant in her old age. If that were true, then what Mary experienced would also be true. Both women could talk about the encounter they had with a specific angel by the name of Gabriel. They could share what they were told. Mary could look at her relative Elizabeth and be assured that God can do anything.
As soon as Mary walks into the presence of Elizabeth, the most amazing thing happens. John, who is at the end of the second trimester inside Elizabeth’s womb, leaps for joy because he is in the presence of his Lord, Jesus, who had just been immaculately conceived. As Christians, does there need to be a debate as to when life begins? Do verses like this help us understand when life begins from God’s perspective? I think they do. Elizabeth is not responding because she senses she is in the presence of her Lord. She responds because the baby in her womb responds. John and Jesus, yet to be born into this world, are deeply connected to the history of this event. They are people/individuals with senses and understanding and faith. John, as a pre-born child in the womb expresses faith. What does that tell you about faith and whether children can believe? Of course they can. We are told in scripture that John would be filled with the Holy Spirit “from birth”. Jesus tells us that we must have faith like a child to enter the kingdom of God and refers to infants and children while blessing them, “as those who believe in Me.”
Finally, Elizabeth’s words. What a wonderful affirmation for Mary to receive. She goes to see Elizabeth to get physical proof, but in reality, gets so much more. Elizabeth assures Mary that the one in her womb is the Lord. She shares with Mary that John had leaped in her womb upon their greeting one another. And finally, she assures Mary of how blessed she is because she faithfully believed what she was told by the angel Gabriel and trusted what God was going to do.
Affirmations are awesome things to get through life. It is comforting and encouraging to be assured that we are on the right page and doing the right thing. It is especially awesome when the affirmation comes from God. May God affirm your direction as you seek to walk in His ways.