This verse is Mary’s amazing response to what God has called her to do, carry and give birth to Jesus; however, it isn’t the first time in Scripture the Lord advises someone about the promise of an impending pregnancy.
My first thoughts go to Sarah, Abraham’s wife. Oh how she longed for years and years to bear a child and it never happened, and then it was too late. In Genesis 18: 12, we see Sarah’s response to God’s proclamation that she would in fact have a baby:
“So Sarah laughed…”
She laughed at the thought of it wondering how someone of her age could bear a child. She thought it was funny because it was impossible, right?? But as the angel Gabriel tells Mary in Luke 1: 37– with God anything is possible. God kept His promise to Sarah and that next year she gave birth to a baby boy. They named him Isaac, which means he laughs.
“The Lord kept His word and did for Sarah exactly what He had promised.” Genesis 21: 1
Now let’s move on to Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth. She, like Sarah, was deemed barren and was also old in age. One day, the angel Gabriel came to Zechariah, Elizabeth’s husband, and advised him that his wife would give birth to a son who would pave the way for the promised Savior. Zechariah immediately didn’t believe what He heard and the result of his doubt was him not being able to speak.
Soon after this encounter between Zechariah and Gabriel, Elizabeth did become pregnant and in due time gave birth to a baby boy. They named him John which means Jehovah has been gracious; has shown favor. This promised child would become John the Baptist and one day baptize Jesus the One and Only in the Jordan River. Zechariah was finally able to speak after John was born, circumcised and named; he praised God with his first several words:
“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; he came and set his people free…just as he promised long ago…” Luke 1: 68-70
Three different babies promised, 3 different reactions. In each of these instances, God knew who He was choosing and what their reaction would be. He knew He had equipped each of them to carry out His divine plan, no matter their response.
In His Word, the Lord has promised us many things…the promise of truth and salvation, the promise of forgiveness of sins, the promise of a better place called Heaven, the promise to never flood the earth again, the promise of His return, and the list goes on. Maybe He has promised you something specifically- the salvation of a loved one, a spouse after years of being single, healing from an illness or disease, or perhaps He has promised you a baby? How do we respond to these promises? Do we laugh like Sarah? Disbelieve like Zechariah? Or do we simply obey as Mary did?
The promise of these babies reminds me not only that there is grace in our doubt, laughter and disobedience but that God’s plan, purposes and promises will prevail no matter our reaction to them. May we have faith that acts by faith not by sight (2 Corinthians 5: 7) and may we never forget that He who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10: 23b)!!!