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The First Person to Worship Jesus: Elizabeth's Story

November 29, 2021

-Dr. J. Vernon McGee, from "The Real Songs of Christmas"

Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.” -Luke 1:39-45

Luke was the only one who recorded the real songs of Christmas, sung by Elizabeth, Mary, Zacharias, Simeon, the angel Gabriel, and the angelic host. The events surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ was the time for people to break forth in song—beginning with one older woman who understood something of the mystery of what was happening in her womb and the womb of her young relative from Galilee named Mary.

If you remember, after the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary she traveled about 100 miles from Galilee to the hill country of Judah, to the home of Zacharias and Elizabeth. Gabriel had told her about Elizabeth’s miracle pregnancy (Luke 1:36). Now Mary needed a safe place where she could think. After all, a tremendous thing was happening to her. She needed human help, someone to talk to, someone who would listen to her with understanding. Who was there better to do that than Elizabeth?

Since Elizabeth was six months along by that time, John the Baptist was to be born within three months. But the interesting thing is, Zacharias couldn’t speak, since he was made dumb by unbelief. So Elizabeth is the one who did the talking. And what sweet fellowship these mothers would have together, one of the loveliest meetings ever recorded.

May I say to you, the only explanation of the Christmas story is that it’s supernatural. And either you believe it or you don’t believe it, which means either you believe God or you don’t believe God. God has laid it right out there for the unbelieving world today.

I’m not trying to explain this, but when Mary arrived unannounced and entered Elizabeth and Zacharias’ home and called out a greeting, the babe in her womb leaped for joy! Elizabeth, knowing what God was preparing to do, was filled with the Holy Spirit. She recognized that the baby Mary was forming beneath her heart was the human Jesus, the Savior, the Son of God. As Elizabeth called her, “The mother of my Lord” (Luke 1:43).

Mary was just a tabernacle. Back in the days of the tabernacle of old, the children of Israel did not believe they were to worship it, and they did not. Later, once they had built the temple, they didn’t worship it, either. They worshiped the One who met with them in the temple. And Elizabeth did not worship Mary. She said to her, “Blessed are you among women,” not above women. Just because Mary brought the Savior into the world did not put her on a pedestal, but she lifted up all womanhood and all motherhood! The Christmas story is a woman’s story. A man had nothing to do with it.

Elizabeth was carrying in her womb the last prophet of the Old Testament dispensation. The last voice of the Old Testament was John the Baptist. And I tell you, what a voice he was! “Prepare the way!” he thundered.

But here at the very beginning, Elizabeth, John’s mother, worshiped the One who was to usher in the new dispensation. She sang the first song of worship, this beatitude, and it’s lovely. “Blessed is the fruit of your womb”—that is, “Blessed is this little one who is coming into the world! And you, Mary, are His tabernacle, the mother of my Lord.”

You don’t go in on Sunday to worship the church building, do you? It may be a lovely auditorium, but I hope you’re not worshiping the structure. I hope you worship the Savior who is to be proclaimed in His church. This is exactly what Elizabeth was doing.

Little is said in Scripture about Elizabeth. She sang the first song of the New Testament, and when you have a soloist like this, you shouldn’t ignore her. She was a remarkable person. She had faith when her husband Zacharias did not. He was struck dumb because of his unbelief, but Elizabeth was not. She believed God. Now as an older woman, she encouraged Mary, a young woman. Elizabeth had walked with God for many years, and she assured Mary that the things which had been revealed to her would indeed happen.

I would like to give Elizabeth a little credit. She believed God and was there for Mary when she needed godly encouragement. God uniquely placed Elizabeth in the Christmas story as the first one to worship the Lord Jesus Christ.

Download "The Real Songs of Christmas" for free here.

My Turn

Elizabeth’s example offers us several wonderful challenges:

  1. As an older woman, she encouraged Mary, a younger woman. We’ve all got younger people who desperately need perspective and encouragement from us. Who do you know who may need encouragement to believe what God has said?
  2. Elizabeth had faith when her husband did not. What a courageous example! Perhaps your family is facing some faith challenges. Will you be the one to believe God when others’ confidence fails? Ask God for the courage.
  3. Elizabeth . . . sang, cried out. When Elizabeth realized she and Mary were playing a part in God’s great story, she didn’t keep quiet. How can you tell others of God’s goodness to you? You are part of His story, as well.