February 06, 2012
Two Contrasting Births
“Now Elizabeth … brought forth a son.
And her neighbors and her cousins … rejoiced with her.”
When John was born, it was an occasion of unusual joy. Word quickly spread among the neighbors and kinsfolk. God has blessed the aged couple. The God Who had brought life out of death at the onset of the nation’s history with Abraham and Sarah, had once again visited His people and brought a son out of a once barren and aged womb. Hopes would be kindled that God was again about to visit His people and redeem them.
Friends, neighbors, and family all were abuzz and gathered round the new parents sharing their joy and rejoicing with them in the goodness of God. Elizabeth was attended by friends and loved ones when John was brought into the world.
In another town, six months later, another woman is about to bring forth a son. There are no friends, neighbors, or kinsfolk. She is alone with her husband. It is perhaps a stable or a field. They have no one to help; Joseph is the one who has the responsibility of caring for his wife and the newly born child. There is no rejoicing; there are no congratulatory sentiments filling the air. Alone, unknown, passed over, and ignored by the inhabitants of Bethlehem, “she brought forth her firstborn son and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger.” None have ever stooped so low as He.
How different the two births and circumstances. God would summon shepherds from the field; He would bring Magi from the east later on to worship. But at the moment of His birth, there were none to share the joy and wonder which must have been Mary and Joseph’s. Yet, no doubt, a Father in heaven looked, and angels gazed with wonder at the self-humbling Son of God as He rested, dependent on the breast of a human, one of His creatures.
1. Both births were miraculous; both deliveries were natural. Yet there was a superintendency over the birth of the Lord Jesus: “Thou are He that took Me out of the womb.” The Spirit of God oversaw every aspect of that lonely birth in a time when the fetal death rate (and maternal death rate) were very high.
2. Think of other ways in which the two births and their circumstances varied.
3. The report of Elizabeth’s pregnancy and delivery caused rejoicing over the mercy of God to her by those that heard. What do you think the reaction was to the news of Mary’s pregnancy?