Elizabeth: “To Take Away My Reproach”
Dec 20, 2015 03:24AM
● By Bonnie Lyn Smith
Luke 1:5-7, ESV, Luke the Physician narrating
In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.
And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.
But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.
A barren woman getting up in age. One who waited for a motherhood yet to happen. A womb that yearned but ached so empty. A husband, though a priest, himself filled with doubt.
But then—then a Savior’s story ushers in. God uses her swelling belly to send a message in utero that later hit the Judean wilderness.
She was not forsaken.
She was not to be scorned.
Her womb was chosen to host a Holy Spirit-filled messenger.
With her story, came a Messiah Who gave His life so that we too may host the Holy Spirit.
Luke 1:24-25, ESV, Luke the Physician narrating
After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying,
"Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people."
Oh, Elizabeth, how He came to take away your reproach!
Let’s back up. Weren’t Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah “righteous people?”
Didn’t they deserve for life to go as expected?
Ever think along those lines? We love God, so somehow disease, infertility, job loss, relationship brokenness, and pain should surpass us and land on the unrighteous?
But, like Elizabeth, we don’t know the end of the story. We can’t see how our trial and our heartache builds into a bigger picture—how it paves the way for how, where, and when God wants to use us!
Luke 1:39-45, ESV, Luke the Physician narrating
In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.
And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry,
"Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.
And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."
Elizabeth experienced the supernatural confirmation and affirmation of our Holy God! How more intimate does it get than for His Spirit to recognize His Son from so deep within us? She was part of His prophecy. The Spirit recognized and declared the Son through Elizabeth!
Do we imagine she thought about this when she watched her childbearing years passing before her with no offspring?
What is God’s purpose ahead of us, just on the horizon, not quite in plain sight yet?
Luke 1:57-66, ESV, Luke the Physician narrating
Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.
And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, but his mother answered, "No; he shall be called John."
And they said to her, "None of your relatives is called by this name." And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called.
And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, "His name is John." And they all wondered.
And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God.
And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, "What then will this child be?"
For the hand of the Lord was with him.
What other gift came with the birth of John the Baptist. Small picture. Big picture. What do we see?
We see that neighbors and relatives rejoiced with her about the Lord’s mercy. She was a testimony and sign of events to come. Elizabeth was impacting her community as they watched the hand of God write her story.
What is He writing in yours? In mine?
What’s more, Zechariah’s speech came back, and a holy fear and anticipation “came on all their neighbors.” Elizabeth’s story was discussed all throughout Judea. There was expectation, wonder, and awe in the air!
Luke 1:76-80, ESV, Zechariah prophesying as recorded by Luke the Physician
“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."
And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.
Oh, Elizabeth, did you ever imagine the Spirit-filled baby in your womb would eat locusts and wildly proclaim the coming Messiah to your people longing for rescue? That his head would end up on a platter at the whim of spoiled royalty?
But, oh, Elizabeth, did you realize how he prepared the way for your people to recognize the King of Kings? That he touched the Savior and soaked Him in baptism. That the Spirit would visit like a dove upon the shoulder of the Son of God upon your faithful act?
Did you ever think that from your body would come a powerful prophet to kick off the earthly ministry of the Son of God? That historical events of the greatest significance would happen following the obedient actions of the fruit of your womb?
Yes, Mary lost her Son—in the physical sense only—on that cross and after His ascension. But you lost yours too.
Elizabeth, when that baby leapt in your womb, did you know you wouldn’t have him for very long? Did you wonder why you were chosen to bear the Baptist?
To love a child you longed for with an end you surely couldn’t have wanted?
Luke 1:36-37, ESV, the angel Gabriel speaking to Mary, Mother of Jesus
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.
For nothing will be impossible with God (emphasis mine).”
Oh, Elizabeth, He did more than take away your reproach! He took mine away! He took the stain off the entire world!
Echoing Gabriel: For nothing will be impossible with God!
Like Elizabeth, how can you give your “impossible” to God today?
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about parenting, marriage, mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, the healing cloak of Jesus, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
Her book, Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day, offers anecdotes on all of these subjects and Scripture for each situation as well as Book Discussion Questions for deeper exploration.