Study this map as you read on. It will help you picture the journey Mary would take as she traveled to Elizabeth’s home.
“And consider your relative Elizabeth — even she has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called childless. For nothing will be impossible with God.” “I am the Lord’s slave,” said Mary. “May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel left her. In those days Mary set out and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judah where she entered Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth.”
Luke 1:36-40 HCSB
Luke 1:36-37 Gabriel is just finished explaining to Mary this supernatural pregnancy she is about to experience, actually I would call it jawdropping, and then it is like Gabriel inserts an “Oh by the way” at the end of this breathtaking event.
New Living Translation says, “What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month.”
Amplified Version says, “Listen!”
Is it just me or do those two statements seem very random to you. Really Gabriel? At the end of this exclamation point of Mary becoming pregnant with the Son of God you add a what’s more. I think that is why I have always missed these two statements of Gabriel’s. They seem so anticlamactic. Even the word anticlamactic seems like an understatement to me. I just don’t get the reasoning behind them. Or I didn’t until I watched the movie “Heaven is for Real”. That movie is what helped me see these verses. In the movie the little boy would say random things about heaven after he had a near death experience. Everyone, including his dad, didn’t quite know what to think of such proclamations by the little boy. Even his mom was skeptical. And let me tell you moms are usually the first to be in their child’s corner, but this time it was the dad who was the first to start believing. This movie made me think, this is what Mary was facing. And Zechariah and Elizabeth also. Each had been touched by heaven. Don’t you know they wanted to tell everyone. Obviously Zechariah couldn’t, seeing has how the angel made him unable to speak. But Mary, she was overjoyed she was perplexed she needed a sounding board. In our day she would have tweeted it, instagrammed it, and face booked it,but for one minor problem of being stoned to death. In those days she was betrothed to be married to Joseph. It was set in stone. In the eyes of Israel she was already married and by levetical law if her husband had found out on their wedding night that his bride was not a virgin that was grounds for stoning. It was hard enough for a young teenage girl to go home to her parents and say, “O yeah mom and dad I am pregnant, but by law her village could have dragged her out to the towns square and everyone would have picked up stones. Read John 8. Her own fiancé had plans to send her and this unwanted pregnancy away. What was Mary to do? She was about to explode with this Good News.
Now do you get it. Now do you see the reasoning behind Gabriel’s “What’s More”. I get it now. God was protecting His Child and His Favored one. He was giving her a place to go. Someone with skin on that she could talk to about this blessed event. These just weren’t some random statements made by Gabriel they had reasoning behind them.
The how of this plan had just been laid out before Mary. She didn’t balk, she didn’t question, she just said, “Let it be done to me as you have said.” But now I look at her next action, “with haste Mary went to the hill country to a town in Judah.” I had to look that up. The Greek uses the noun “spoude” which can carry the idea of eagerness, diligence enthusiasm, and zeal. Mary is in a hurry to leave that much is clear. Think of it. She is young. Most bible scholars put her age between 12-14 and no older. Heaven had just touched earth and she was to play a major role in the “Plan of Salvation for all of mankind!” Adrenaline had to be flowing. The bible doesn’t tell us if she went and got her parents permission. I looked this up. She, this young child, just got ready and probably within an hour after hearing she would bear the Son of God, she just up and left her home in Nazareth. I don’t know the time frame here, but at some point between the time Gabriel gave her the message and the time she up and left, the Holy Spirit of God, the Power of the Most High, had come down and overshadowed her and implanted in her our Lord Jesus. As Max Lucado puts it, “A conception of Divine Grace with human disgrace” occurred. A most spectacular event happened in Mary’s womb so she made haste to get out of Dodge so she could explain this to people who would get her. I have to paint this picture in your mind so you can get the dramatic effect. This young peasant girl had to be feeling pretty overwhelmed. She was in need of steadying and guidance. This whole experience had to have been so exciting. And now she is on a journey. Her pregnancy begins with an arduous journey and will end with an arduous journey. Her journey from Nazareth to the hill country of Judah covered between 80 and 100 miles. We don’t know how she traveled or whom she traveled with. She was a poor peasant girl alone traveling through mountain passes and rocky terrain. I do not think she rode a horse. I don’t think she would have had that kind of money. If she went on foot she could probably travel 20 miles a day. The Judean countryside was also plagued by bandits and robbers. A young girl traveling alone would have been prime prey. I sorta think she traveled in a caravan. Either way it would have taken at least 4 or 5 days to travel to Elizabeth’s house. Did she ever ask the question of every young child on a road trip, “Are we there yet?” But on this journey she determinedly went, because God was sending Mary to Elizabeth and Zechariah. Other people who had been touched by God. Other people who would know exactly what she was experiencing. We need those people in our lives also. And God knows we need them. I have a writing friend who just launched her blogsite: weareperfectlyweak.com. She is my pastor’s wife, Casey Boyd. Again God’s Word has become real life for me. We are Elizabeth and Mary. (we aren’t pregnant! I for one say Hallelujah to that!) But God definitely had our writing lives intersect. We do have each other to walk alongside of as we start this journey of writing together. We get each other. Each of us know the fear of putting ourselves out there. We know the feeling of being vulnerable on the great wide web of the internet, so we call each other and sound off and encourage one another to keep going no matter what because God has called you to this mission.
But back to our two “First Women of Christmas”. I think I am slow witted when it comes to understanding the ways of God, and the little implications He sends me everyday. Like I said it has taken me these many years to see these verses.
Look at verse 39. How long did it take Mary to grasp Gabriel’s implication? She immediately leaves for Elizabeth’s house.
“Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy.”
Luke 1:42-44 NLT
In these words, Elizabeth confirms for Mary the mission she is on. I know Mary knew she was carrying the Son of God , but she was barely pregnant. No way would she have felt baby Jesus stirring inside of her. Elizabeth’s words here had to have been a balm to her soul. “OK. Yeah all this did just happen to me. I am on the right track.” Elizabeth gave Mary words of confirmation. We all need those words. Words spoken to us to say, “You are on God’s path for your life.”
Like I said Mary is very thoughtful. She takes everything to heart. Talks little and thinks much. These type of people are very sensitive to those gentle nudges of the Holy Spirit.
Can you hear those nudges?
Can you feel them?
Is God planting a task, a mission way down in the depths of your heart?
Can you feel it coming together?
Can you see the plan?
What is God birthing in you?
The journey ahead may be filled with mountains and rocky terrain, but I guarantee each mission God calls you to HE WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU! HE WILL GIVE YOU SOMEONE TO WALK ALONGSIDE OF YOU TO GUIDE YOU AND TO WORK WITH YOU IN THIS ENDEAVOR! IN EVERY MISSION FROM GOD YOU WILL HAVE THE GUIDANCE AND POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT TO ENABLE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!
OH HALLELUJAH AND THANK YOU GOD!