John the Baptist is Just 6 Months Older Than Jesus (#BraveLikeMary Series)

Dear Christian Sisters,

As we have seen, Elizabeth’s story of giving birth to John the Baptist is intertwined with Mary’s story of giving birth to Jesus.

And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month.

And Mary stayed with her about three months, and then returned to her home.

Now the time had come for Elizabeth to give birth, and she gave birth to a son.

‭‭Luke‬ ‭1:36, 56-57‬ ‭NASB‬‬

John the Baptist is just 6 months older than Jesus. Mary and Elizabeth are relatives, so John the Baptist and Jesus grew up as cousins, cousins who lived 4 days away from each other.

But Elizabeth and Zacharias lived closer to Jerusalem (Luke 1:39-40) than Mary and Joseph did. So when Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover (Luke 2:41)—and likely Pentecost (50 days after Passover) and Tabernacles (in the fall), since these are the pilgrimage festivals—where do you think they stayed?

John the Baptist and Jesus must have played together during the pilgrimage festivals until Elizabeth and Zacharias died.

Now we don’t know whether Elizabeth and Zacharias died before or after 12-year-old Jesus stayed behind at the temple (Luke 2:41-52), but I would guess before since Mary and Joseph seem to be traveling home in a caravan (Luke 2:44) rather than traveling to Elizabeth and Zacharias’ home.

Think ahead to what you know about John the Baptist’s story. At what point do you think John realized that he knew Jesus when they were children?

As you think about all the things not recorded in the Bible, enjoy the story of John’s birth:

Now the time had come for Elizabeth to give birth, and she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and her relatives heard that the Lord had displayed His great mercy toward her; and they were rejoicing with her.

And it happened that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to call him Zacharias, after his father. But his mother answered and said, “No indeed; but he shall be called John.”

And they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by that name.” And they made signs to his father, as to what he wanted him called.

They thought that because Zacharias couldn’t talk, he also couldn’t hear!

And he asked for a tablet and wrote as follows, “His name is John.” And they were all astonished. And at once his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he began to speak in praise of God.

Fear came on all those living around them; and all these matters were being talked about in all the hill country of Judea. All who heard them kept them in mind, saying, “What then will this child turn out to be?” For the hand of the Lord was certainly with him.

And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying:

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people,
And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of David His servant—
As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old—
To show mercy toward our fathers,
And to remember His holy covenant,
The oath which He swore to Abraham our father,
To grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies,
Might serve Him without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.
“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
For you will go on BEFORE THE LORD TO PREPARE HIS WAYS (Malachi 3:1);
To give to His people the knowledge of salvation
By the forgiveness of their sins,
Because of the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us,
To guide our feet into the way of peace” (Isaiah 59:8).

And the child continued to grow and to become strong in spirit, and he lived in the deserts until the day of his public appearance to Israel.

‭‭Luke‬ ‭1:57-80‬ ‭NASB‬‬

In Christ,


Elizabeth Confirms God’s Promise (#BraveLikeMary)

Dear Christian Sisters,

Mary told her parents that she was pregnant out of wedlock. Today, we would call this a crisis pregnancy. Mary also told Joseph that she was pregnant:

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 1:18 ESV

Then Mary went to see Elizabeth–for the angel mentioned Elizabeth for a reason.

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

Wow! Mary hears confirmation right as she enters the door.

Filled with gratefulness, Mary says:

And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
Luke 1:46-55 ESV

May we respond in gratefulness, too, when the Lord confirms His plans for our lives.

In Christ,


PS: Tomorrow, we’ll consider Elizabeth’s role in Mary’s life.

Take Heart—God Has a Plan

Dear Christian Sisters,

After everyone at the temple saw that Zacharias couldn’t speak, Zacharias and Elizabeth went home. Luke says:

After these days, Elizabeth his wife became pregnant…
Luke 1:24a

Can you imagine Elizabeth and Zacharias’ excitement? Not only were they finally pregnant, Zacharias now knew what the angel said was true! Confirmation!

…and she kept herself in seclusion for five months, saying, “This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He looked withfavor upon me, to take away my disgrace among men.”
Luke 1:24b-25

I find it sad that we think of not being able to have children as a disgrace.

If you are unable to have children, my love pours out for you. I am praying for you as I write.

Know that even if the Lord has not given you the ability to bear children, you can have spiritual children.

Isaiah 54:1-4 says:

“Woman, be happy! You have not had any children, but you should be very happy.

“Yes, the woman who is alone will have more children than the woman with a husband.” This is what the Lord says.

“Make your tent bigger. Open your doors wide. Don’t think small! Make your tent large and strong, because you will grow in all directions. Your children will take over many nations and live in the cities that were destroyed.

“Don’t be afraid! You will not be disappointed. People will not say bad things against you. You will not be embarrassed. When you were young, you felt shame. But you will forget that shame now. You will not remember the shame you felt when you lost your husband.”

Take heart. God has a plan.

In Christ,