“The Miracle Moms and Their Baby Boys” (Luke 1:39-45)

Fourth Sunday in Advent
December 19, 2021

“The Miracle Moms and Their Baby Boys” (Luke 1:39-45)

Two expectant mothers–two miracle mothers, moms who shouldn’t have been–the two mothers meet, and they rejoice in their good fortune. They praise God for the wonderful work he is doing for them and through them. The Holy Spirit has given them faith to believe what God has spoken and what God is doing. And what God is doing will be done by the two babies they are carrying in their womb. Those two boys are going to change the world! They will change your world and turn it right-side up! And so our theme this morning: “The Miracle Moms and Their Baby Boys.”

The two expectant mothers, one old, one young. One is six months along; the other, newly pregnant. The fact that they each are expecting was totally unexpected! Both of them are pregnant when really neither one of them should have been. This meeting of the moms is the visitation of Mary to Elizabeth. Elizabeth is the older woman; Mary, the younger. Elizabeth is in her sixth month; Mary’s pregnancy has just started. Neither one of them should have been pregnant in normal circumstances. But the circumstances are much better than normal! Mary goes to visit her older relative Elizabeth, traveling from her home in Nazareth in Galilee, to the home of Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah in the hill country of Judah. But the key to this story is not just the moms. It’s the two baby boys they are carrying inside of them. And it’s especially the baby that Mary is carrying who will change your world and turn it right-side up.

Now there is a back story to each of these pregnancies. Let’s start with Elizabeth. She was an older woman, well beyond her childbearing years. What’s more, she had never been able to have children, even when she was young. This was a great disappointment to Elizabeth and Zechariah. Zechariah was a priest who served in the temple in Jerusalem. One day when he was in the Holy Place, ministering at the altar of incense, an angel appeared to him. It was the angel Gabriel, who told Zechariah that he and Elizabeth were going to have a child. It will be a boy, and they are to name him John. The angel said that God would have a special calling on John’s life. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb. He will be a great prophet like Elijah. He will go before the Lord to prepare his way. John will be the last great prophet before the coming of the Messiah. After receiving this awesome news, Zechariah goes home, Elizabeth becomes pregnant, and she is six months along when Mary comes for a visit.

What led Mary to go visit Elizabeth? It was that the angel Gabriel made another surprise announcement, this time to Mary. He told her that she also would be expecting a child she didn’t expect. But it wasn’t that Mary was too old or unable to have children. No, what made this pregnancy unusual was that Mary a virgin. She was not married; she had not been with a man. Mary became pregnant while remaining a virgin. That just does not happen. And this is the only time it ever would happen. But it was fitting that it would happen in this way, for the child Mary would bear himself would be totally unique.

Gabriel had told Mary many wonderful things about this boy to be born: “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy–the Son of God.” Conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary. True God and true man. This baby Jesus will be the Son of God in the flesh. He will be the Messiah promised so long ago. Gabriel then added: “And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.” That’s how Mary comes to visit Elizabeth. They’ve got these miracle pregnancies in common.

This is where we pick up the story today. Mary goes to the home of Zechariah and Elizabeth. She enters the house and greets Elizabeth. The sound of her greeting is picked up by baby John, in the womb, and he does a joyful little leap! Remember, Gabriel had said that John would be filled with the Spirit even in his mother’s womb. So when Mary greets Elizabeth, the Spirit causes John to recognize that Jesus is there, in the room, in her womb. Everywhere that Mary went, the Lamb was sure to go–the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, as John himself would call Jesus years later.

The presence of Christ among us brings us joy also. The gospel sound that greets us here in church tells us that Jesus is here, and so we rejoice. Some of us are past our leaping prime, but the coming of Christ in our midst should get at least ten Lutherans a-leaping.

John leaps, and Elizabeth too is filled with the Holy Spirit. She tells Mary, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” Mary, you have been given a great honor, to bear the Savior of the world. I mean, I am honored to bear the forerunner of the Lord, but you get to give birth to the Lord himself! What a wonderful blessing!

Elizabeth continues: “And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Hear the humble faith in Elizabeth’s words. She realizes that she is not worthy of such a visitation. At the same time, she recognizes that her Lord is coming to her, bringing great blessing. Such a humble faith is truly the work of the Holy Spirit.

God grant us the humility and the faith of an Elizabeth: To recognize that you are not worthy to have God grace you with his presence. To know that you are a sinner. You and I do not deserve to have our Lord come to us with his blessing. It is purely by his grace and his mercy that he does. And God has given you the humility to realize this.

And God works faith in you, as well. As with Elizabeth, the Holy Spirit works in your heart, through the gospel, so that you trust in Jesus your Savior. You know that this little child came as our brother, in the flesh, so that he could do the job only he could do, to save us. Christ Jesus came to do the Father’s will, to keep God’s law perfectly on our behalf. And he came to offer up the perfect sacrifice that atones for all our sins. Jesus suffered and died a sinner’s death on the cross, taking the punishment that God’s law requires and that we deserve. Jesus came to be our peace and our life, shown forth gloriously when he rose from the dead, victorious over sin and death. He brings us blessing and joy by his grace.

When Jesus enters your house, you get all his blessings with him. This is enough to make a person leap for joy, as Elizabeth tells Mary, “For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.”

Elizabeth has one more word for Mary: “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” Faith–this is what we’re seeing here, all around. The Spirit gives Elizabeth the faith to know that this is no ordinary child Mary is bringing into the room. And Elizabeth commends Mary for her faith, that Mary believed the great things the angel had told her about the son she would bear.

These two miracle moms are two great women of faith. Both Mary and Elizabeth stand out as wonderful examples for us. They believe the Lord’s words, they receive his gifts, and they praise God for them. And listen, the Holy Spirit will work such faith in you, too.

Really, there’s a whole bunch of miracles in our text today. The way that both Elizabeth and Mary got pregnant, of course–in each case, it was miraculous. But also, the way that they both believe and rejoice in the good news of their Lord and Savior–that too is a miracle. Even little John gets in on the believing and rejoicing. Anytime anyone is given the gift of faith and joy in the Lord–this is always a miracle of God. The Holy Spirit works through the Word, working in our hearts, creating a saving faith and a blessed joy. And the great thing is, you and I have the same good news coming to us today. We have the same Holy Spirit at work in our hearts.

Today we have heard the story of these two miracle moms, Mary and Elizabeth. It was a meeting of the moms, yes, but don’t forget those baby boys! They meet also, Jesus and John do. And wherever Mary’s baby boy goes, he brings blessing with him. Even in the womb, he brings blessing and joy to the home of Elizabeth and Zechariah. And Jesus brings blessing and joy into our homes, too. When we gather with our family this merry Christmas–when Christ is the reason for our merriment–Jesus will bring the joy with him. And when we gather here with our church family, here in God’s house, Christ is surely present to bless us with his gifts. Christ is here, visiting us with his grace and favor. And because he is here, I’m about ready to leap for joy myself!

Published in: on December 17, 2021 at 11:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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