Advent Meditations - Lesson on Humility from 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?” (Luke 1:41-43)

The more I have read this passage, the more I have been struck by its portrayal of the character of true humility. If you struggle with pride, as sometimes I do, these verses come right at you and clearly spell out for you just what true humility looks like.

You know what? There are subtle moments when I want to be preoccupied with myself. When my mind tells me, people ought to recognise and acknowledge my accomplishments. When I am tempted to rehearse all my successes and show people that I am worth something. You see, pride is an orientation that wrongly assumes that everything should revolve around us. Elizabeth’s words in these verses give us a good example of a truly humble disposition.

When Elizabeth was visited by her younger cousin Mary, she was six months pregnant. When she heard the greeting of Mary, we are told that the baby leaped in her womb, and filled with the Spirit, she spoke these words in our text: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” Do you see the humility of Elizabeth? An angel came to her husband months earlier and told him that she would be the mother of the forerunner of the Messiah. That in the person of her son, the great prophecies of the Old Testament were going to be fulfilled.

But when Mary shows up by her doorstep, Elizabeth has nothing to say about herself. Just this: “Blessed are you among women.” She could have said, ‘Mary, let me tell you how I'm going to be used of the Lord!’ But for Elizabeth, it’s all about Jesus. ‘Blessed are you among women, Mary, because you’re going to bear the Messiah. You’re going to be the mother of my Lord.’ 

Elizabeth is not envious of her younger cousin who has been chosen by God to bear the Messiah. She does not think of herself – older, more mature and perhaps more godly, as the one who should have been given this honour to give birth to the Messiah. No. She is content with providence’s gift to her, and she is happy for Mary. And it struck me, as I was reading this passage, that Elizabeth’s son was just like her. You remember John the Baptist’s word? “He must increase; I must decrease.” (John 3:). John learnt humility from his mother. The self-denial, and the focus on Christ that is latter displayed in the ministry of John is evident in the heart of Elizabeth!

My friends, we could learn something from that. For so many of us “it’s all about me…all about mine…let me tell you about me…let me tell you what I’ve done.” Not with Elizabeth. All the focus is on Jesus. All the encouragement is to Mary, who is going to be the one to bear the Messiah. What an example of humility she is to us. The Bible’s answer to our fallen self-obsession is a great work of grace in the gospel that creates a worshipful fixation and focus upon God. 



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