Mary and Elizabeth
Mary made sure the ewe (Jochebed) and her little perfect lamb was back in the pen before going inside. She entered her home, took off her sandals and greeted her grandfather.
“Hello Grandfather,” she said putting down the cistern of water.
“Mary! I thought you’d have returned from your morning prayers before now. How are you this morning, my dear? It seems this family has left me all alone today,” said her Grandfather.
“I am well,” Mary replied. “Is there anything I can help you with?”
“No, my dear. Your mother set up everything I need before she left. I expect her back any moment. Your younger sisters and brother just left to take lunch to Samuel. Between you and me, I sent them so I can get word back about the wolf attack last night,” Grandfather confided.
“Yes, yes, the wolf attack. I’m sure everyone and everything is fine…” Mary said out loud but obviously preoccupied with her own thoughts.
“Mary. I’ve never known you to be so calloused. You talk as if the attack wasn’t serious. You know the reports about other older experienced shepherds with neighboring flocks being caught off guard by this particular pack of wolves,” chided Grandfather.
“Oh Grandfather, I’m very sorry I sounded disinterested. Far from it. I’ve prayed for Samuel and others this morning. I know God is with Samuel and will protect him, but I’m glad you sent our “spies” to bring back a report,” Mary said smiling.
“What’s this I hear? Spies?” questioned Mary’s mother entering through the door.
Mary and her grandfather looked at each other as if they shared a secret neither were willing to admit.
“Where are the children?” said Mary’s mother looking around the courtyard of their home. Have they gone to play so early? I hope they have finished the duties I gave them to complete before I returned.”
Grandfather spoke first. “Well…,” he hesitated, “I sent them to Samuel with a special lunch.”
Mary’s mother stared at the elderly gentlemen and raised her eyebrows. “Lunch?” she questioned. Mary’s mother waved her hand in the air and said, “Weill, hopefully, they will come back with news.”
“Well, yes,” replied Grandfather, “that would be good too.”
Mary would normally love the banter between her mother and grandfather, but she had pressing concerns on her mind. “Mother, I have heard some news.”
Both her mother and grandfather gave her their full attention. Mary fingered the end of her head scarf that hung over her arm.
“Yes, what is it?” asked her mother.
“It’s about Elizabeth,” Mary said nervously. “I’ve had some news about her and I’d like to go to her immediately.” Mary hoped her mother would not asked how she came about such news.
“What have you heard? Is Elizabeth okay?” responded Mary’s mother concerned.
“Yes, yes, she’s fine. Actually, she’s better than fine. I have news that she is with child,” Mary reported.
Mary’s mother laughed as did Grandfather. “With child? Honey, do you know how old my cousin is? I think that is quite impossible. Surely, you misunderstood.”
“No Mother. I heard it from a very credible source. It is a marvelous miracle. I must go to her at once.” Mary strode into her room and began gathering a few things for her journey.
“Mary, I know how dear Elizabeth is to you. But we cannot leave for a trip now. We can send word to Elizabeth to confirm what you’ve heard,” Mother called to Mary in the other room.
“I must go Mother. I must! I have thought this through. I can take Grandfather with me,” Mary said from the doorway.
At this, Mary’s grandfather looked at her in surprise. Then he looked at Mary’s mother in surprise as if to say he knew nothing about this. But Grandfather leaned back and stroked his beard in contemplation. “Yes, I would like to go, I think. I’ve heard there are caravan’s coming through in about a week and heading to Judea. We can travel with them. It will be much safer than traveling alone.”
“Grandfather, we must go now, I cannot wait even a day!”
“It will be a four day journey most likely,” said Grandfather. It is too dangerous to travel alone. We will have to wait.”
“Yes, I completely agree with your Grandfather. I know this is marvelous news, Mary, but a week is not that long,” insisted Mary’s Mother.
“This will give us time to gather food and essentials for the trip,” Grandfather said. “Mary, do not look so forlorn. A week is not that long, my dear.”
One week later, Mary praised God while packing. She knew only The Father could work out the details so well. This was indeed the right path to go to Elizabeth. And she remembered..
“In all your ways, submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.“Proverbs 3:6
Mary and her grandfather left in haste that morning to catch the caravans passing through their little town of Nazareth. The journey was dusty the first day and wet the remaining three as the spring rains sent cool showers on man and beast alike. But Mary didn’t mind the dust or the rain. She had too much on her mind and took the opportunity to question her grandfather about what the scripture says of the coming Messiah.
“Grandfather, remind me what the prophet Isaiah said about our redemption,” said Mary. Grandfather responded with great memory, “Yeshua will proclaim:”
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who morn;“Isaiah 61:1-2
Grandfather continued, “Isaiah also says,”
“Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.“Isaiah 7:14
Grandfather went on to remind Mary that Isaiah prophesied that Yeshua will be a suffering servant and he will bear our sins and be exalted.
Mary hid all these things in her heart. It was not time to speak what she knew. The Lord would reveal all in His perfect time. “Oh Father, help me not to be anxious or afraid,” She silently prayed.
At last Mary and her grandfather made their way to the door of Zachariah and her dear Elizabeth. Grandfather raised his staff, the very one that he carried to manage the sheep in his younger years and now he leaned on it in his old age. He tapped three times on the door. They did not wait long. When Elizabeth opened the door, Mary could not contain her excitement, “greetings dear cousin!” she breathed.
“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.“Luke 1:41
The two women embraced hugging the other close. Elizabeth pulled back from Mary with her hands on Mary’s shoulders, she looked at her and full of the Holy Spirit in a loud voice exclaimed:
“Yes! yes!” Mary responded. “Oh Elizabeth!” Mary began to cry tears feeling the beautiful presence of the Holy Spirit of God. His nearness overwhelmed her feelings, but she loved the tears, they were tears of joy and love. And Mary said:
"My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me- holy is His name. His mercy extends to those who fear Him from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors." Luke 1:47-55
The women hugged again. Grandfather stood in awe of the scene before him. There would be much to discuss in the coming days. He had many questions that swirled in his mind as they were invited in.
Mary and Elizabeth had three wonderful months together. Even though Elizabeth had to shelter Mary from gossip, the two women enjoyed the Lord’s great grace upon them. They spent time in prayer and study of the scriptures with the help of Zacharias and Grandfather. They spent time just enjoying the company of one another and comparing how much their lives were interwoven.
Elizabeth was thought to be past childbearing age, yet the Lord heard her prayer. A babe, so unexpected! She would have never dreamed this would happen to her. Mary was a virgin, young and engaged. A babe, so unexpected! She would have never dreamed this would have happened to her.
The two women, years apart in age, were anchored together by the babes they carried. Both babies were announced by the angel Gabriel, then conceived by miracles: Elizabeth in her barrenness and old age and Mary in her virginity by the Holy Spirit. Their babies would be the fulfillment of many prophesies.
Just as Elizabeth would help Mary prepare, Elizabeth’s babe would prepare the way for Mary’s. Neither Elizabeth or Mary had to experience their miracles in seclusion.
God never does anything in secret or in solitude. He announces, prepares, and reveals. TweetMytreasuredfaith.com
Mary, along with her grandfather, stayed with Elizabeth for three months upon the insistence of their hosts. Grandfather enjoyed Zacharias’s company especially since he got to do all the talking!
When the angel Gabriel had appeared to Zacharias, and told him that Elizabeth would give birth to a son, he did not believe, and therefore Zacharias was stricken and unable to speak.
Elizabeth was visited often by her midwife Susanna who became fast friends with Mary as well.
Susanna was the youngest of midwives in her village, but she was highly regarded. At twenty-five, she had helped many women safely deliver their babies. She was trained from childhood by her own adoptive mother. Like her mother, Susanna had miscarried and was unable to have children. But that had become a mute point since her husband’s death. And being unable to have children, she had no interested suitors. But her mother had given her a skill and she was grateful.
Susanna was thankful to live in her Father’s household. Gad (her father) had not remarried. Most people made fun of his severe stutter. But those who were patient and spoke with him knew what a man after the Lord’s heart Gad was.
Grandfather was truly in his element between Gad and his stutter and Zachariah’s lack of any speech. He could always get the last word in. But as the three months passed, Grandfather felt himself weaken and worried how he would make it home with Mary when the time came to return. But when Elizabeth went into labor, a little strength seemed to return with the hope of the prophesied baby.
Elizabeth’s baby came and Susanna attended to the needs of Mother and baby with skilled hands. When Susanna returned home to her father, Gad , in his broken speech asked, “hhhhow ddid the dellllivvvery ggggo withthth…
“It was one of the easiest deliveries I have ever witnessed. I was hardly needed at all,” said Susanna.
“When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son.
Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy and they shared her joy.”Luke 1:57
Eight days later, surrounded by Priest and men, the baby was circumcised.
On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zacharias, but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”
They said to her, “There is no-one among your relatives who has that name.”
Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child.
He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.”Luke 1:59-63
Later that afternoon, Gad was excitedly telling his daughter what had happened. Susanna listened patiently as she always had done with her father.
“Zacharias ffffelt his ttttongue losssse it’s silence. BBBBut then he spokkkke as if GGGGod Himself wwwwas saying the wordssss. It wwwwas a prophecy ffffor sure. The pppart of Zacharias’s proph, ph, phecy I rrremember mmmost was”:
“And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for Him,
to give His people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in the darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet in the path of peace.”Luke 1:76-79
Early the next morning, Mary and Grandfather were to leave for home. Mary was three months pregnant and felt the baby move often inside of her. She knew there would be difficult times ahead. She would do her best to explain all to her parents and to Joseph. Perhaps Grandfather would be her best defender. But Grandfather was growing weak. He insisted he could make the journey home. But Mary did not think it wise to travel without help. Susanna and her father Gad agreed to go on the journey with them and lend a helping hand. Mary was very grateful.
Elizabeth walked over to Mary and the two women hugged and cried together. The babe between them began to cry. “Sympathy cries,” stated Mary to Elizabeth. She looked down again at the babe in her arms. “Okay, little one, we’ve stopped crying, you must too.”
Mary cradled Elizabeth’s babe in her arms one last time before she handed him back to his mother. She kissed his soft head and looked up to Elizabeth and said, “These three months have meant so much to me. I’ll never forget our time together.”
“Mary, I’m going to miss you so much,” replied Elizabeth. And the two women parted, forever bound by their babies.
Thank you for reading A Christmas Story. Chapter Three will be published soon. Be sure to follow me and enter your e-mail for notifications of the next chapter. I hope you have a very blessed Christmas season.