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.”
(Luke 1:39-45, ESV)
What’s with the leaping inside the womb? Babies don’t know anything; they can’t. It takes a miracle for John to recognize the Christ when both of them are unborn! So, the miracle babies are miracles all the way – and these two women have miracles in utero.
There is something wonderful in this that we can see even today. I meet folks now and then who tell me they don’t know a time when they didn’t know or love God. They can’t explain it to you, they just have always known. Sometimes they feel cheated because they don’t have some sensational story of meeting Jesus. It’s true, the exciting conversions are good and encouraging stories, but they don’t beat the work of our God putting His love and His new life into babies from the start. That’s something very special, and we celebrate it in infant baptism. Don’t get me wrong – spiritual miracle babies have to claim Christ, believe in Him, and repent as everyone else does. They just “get it” early on, and often, they don’t suffer all the stupidity and folly of perverse lifestyles and dumb choices like my family did.
The leap inside also makes me think of what Elizabeth says to Mary. Elizabeth is probably Mary’s senior by 30 or 40 years. She gets pretty excited when the unborn John leaps in her belly at the sound of Mary’s voice. She knows something supernatural is happening, and she claims it. Elizabeth also blesses Mary for believing “there would be a fulfillment of the word the Lord had spoken.” She is saying, “Mary, your real blessing is that you trusted God through all of this!” Of course, it is. Getting randomly pregnant as announced by an angel is heavy. If you think it wasn’t hard and confusing and she wasn’t tempted to worry and fear embarrassment, then you’re not living in the mental headspace of a 14-year-old girl (that’s our best guess from that culture – maybe 18.)
It’s amazing – Mary is yielded. Yielded to what? The word of God. She takes God simply at His word. Period. That is the reason for her great and amazing blessing. This blessing, the blessing of being yielded to God’s word, is available to all of us. Advent invites us to celebrate, rest, and rejoice in the word of God fulfilled. Advent reveals how trustworthy, reliable, and amazing the words of God are – that’s why we keep quoting all these ancient texts that predict what’s happening. I encourage you to enter into a life yielded to God’s words. How? Read your Bible, all of your Bible. Read the word, and you will know the Word Himself, Jesus. Step boldly into Mary’s example of a humble and yielded heart, and you will find a blessing, too.