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—
Salvation FROM OUR ENEMIES,
And FROM THE HAND OF ALL WHO HATE US (Psalm 106:10);
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 SHINE UPON THOSE WHO SIT IN DARKNESS AND THE SHADOW OF DEATH (Isaiah 9:2),
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