by Laura Loffredo

An amazing event occurred at the Temple in Jerusalem.  Zachariah the priest was visited by an Angel of the Lord with the startling news that he and his wife, Elizabeth, were finally to become parents in their old age.  Their baby son was to be named John and he would be filled with the Holy Spirit from birth and become a prophet in the spirit of Elijah proclaiming the glory of the coming Messiah.  This was heady news for the old priest.

Then another surprise came when an unexpected guest arrived on their doorstep. Out of the blue, Elizabeth’s cousin from several days’ journey appeared at their home.  Mary, a very young woman, was also with child.  Age-wise the two women were much like grandmother and granddaughter.  Incredibly, when the two women greeted, their unborn babes greeted also with baby John sharply saluting his Lord!  It confirms that we have souls from conception. It was clearly the servant saluting his master; the subject bowing to his King–from the womb! “At the sound of your greeting the babe leaped in my womb,” said Elizabeth to Mary.

Neither text nor e-mail informed Elizabeth of Mary’s motherhood.  The heads-up had been instantly relayed directly from the Holy Spirit Himself.  She was deeply touched to receive Mary, “The Mother of my Lord,” into her home.  Their son, John, was to become the divinely appointed Forerunner of the glorious King, preparing the way for Israel to repent and reconcile to God so they would be ready to receive Messiah with all their hearts.  

Mary came to visit because theologians believe her mother died when she was growing up so it prompted her to seek her favorite cousin to share the news of the angel’s visit.  Besides, Mary had learned that Elizabeth was already six months along.  Perhaps she wanted to be of assistance to her elderly cousin while in her advanced stages of pregnancy.  How enriching it must have been for those two dear ones to spend time together. We can only imagine how they must have harmonized day and night in praise to God, and spent joyous days cooking, talking, and giggling while Zachariah passed in their midst, smiling along, but nary a word of interruption!

In later years, the two cousins, Jesus and John, so close in age must have enjoyed being together in Jerusalem every year – playing games with the other children and then the two lively boys would  slip away to find some tree to climb.

At the River Jordon, John did not rely on what he had been told growing up regarding his cousin Jesus, but waited until the Holy Spirit confirmed it within him.  At which time he uttered the words with great confidence, “Behold, the Lamb of God” with not a doubt in his mind!  He loved his cousin and was thrilled to take a lesser place to Him. “He must increase, while I must decrease.”

Truly, love makes all the difference in a relationship; so let us love Jesus with our whole hearts as we approach the season and all it means to the world.