Dear friend, as we study the gospels and seek to understand the truths within, the stories of John the Baptist and his family offer valuable insights. John’s miraculous birth to aged parents connects to God’s faithful promises and points to the coming Messiah. Let’s explore what Scripture teaches about John’s mother Elizabeth, her age, and why it matters.
John the Baptist bursts onto the scene in the gospels as the prophetic forerunner to Jesus Christ. His birth and ministry were foretold centuries earlier by the prophets Isaiah and Malachi (Isaiah 40:3, Malachi 3:1). Called to prepare the way for the Lord, John preached repentance and baptized in the wilderness. He boldly confronted sin yet humbly deferred to Jesus, declaring “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30 NKJV).
Central to John’s origin story are his parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth. By examining what Scripture reveals about Elizabeth’s age, we gain insight into God’s miraculous power, His faithfulness across generations, and His exquisite timing in sending the Messiah. Join me as we explore 3 key themes:
- Elizabeth’s barrenness illustrates God’s miraculous intervention
- Her aged pregnancy displays God’s faithfulness across long waits
- The timing connects Jesus’ coming to Old Testament promises
As we dive into the biblical text, may our confidence in God’s meticulous plans grow. Just as He prepared the way for the Messiah through John’s conception, He prepares the way for us today.
Elizabeth’s Barrenness Displays God’s Miraculous Power
The story of John’s birth opens with his parents Zechariah and Elizabeth. Luke describes them as “both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless” (Luke 1:6 NKJV). By all accounts, they were people of exemplary faith. Yet Luke reveals Elizabeth was barren. At the time, barrenness carried social stigma and was even seen as a sign of divine disfavor. Yet their childlessness was no fault of their own.
This righteous couple long endured the grief of barrenness together. But God would miraculously intervene, demonstrating His wondrous power. For nothing is impossible with God! An angel announces to Zechariah that despite their old age, they will bear a son. And not just any son – the one chosen to be the forerunner to the Messiah, in fulfillment of prophecy (Luke 1:13-17).
Elizabeth’s womb, shut for so many years, will be opened. Her barrenness will blossom into motherhood through divine action. This foreshadows God’s work in sending the Messiah. Just as something impossible occurs in Elizabeth’s aged body, something even more extraordinary will occur as God breaks into history through the virgin birth.
For those enduring disappointments or waiting for their own miracles, Elizabeth’s story offers hope. Her pregnancy encourages us to expect the unexpected with God. It assures us He remains sovereign and able to break through even the most difficult circumstances. We must cling in faith to God’s mighty power to do the impossible.
Elizabeth’s Aged Pregnancy Shows God’s Faithfulness Across Time
Beyond showing God’s miraculous intervention, Elizabeth’s pregnancy after long barrenness displays His faithfulness across generations. Elizabeth was “well advanced in years” when she conceived John (Luke 1:7). Just how old was she? We find clues in the parallel account of her pregnancy to Sarah’s late-in-life conception of Isaac.
The Virgin Mary, pregnant with Jesus, visits Elizabeth after hearing her news. Luke notes Mary “arose and went with haste” to visit Elizabeth (Luke 1:39). This mirrors the Genesis account of Abraham humorously saying to Sarah, “Shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” when promised she will conceive (Gen. 18:12). Both couples are too aged for childbearing, yet will bear children of promise.
Further, the angel Gabriel tells Zechariah that John will go “in the spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17). This connects John’s ministry directly to the great prophet’s hundreds of years earlier. Gabriel’s reference to turning “the hearts of the fathers to the children” (Luke 1:17) quotes the last words of the Old Testament, promising to send the prophet Elijah before the Messiah comes (Mal. 4:5-6). With Elizabeth likely over 60 based on Sarah’s example, perhaps even into her 70s or 80s, her aged motherhood spans generations.
For centuries the faithful had clung to God’s promises to send the Messiah. Even when years stretched into centuries, they trusted in His faithfulness. Elizabeth’s pregnancy after a lifetime of disappointment powerfully illustrates God’s constancy across vast ages. Her motherhood in old age physically connects the concluding verses of the Old Testament to their long-awaited fulfillment.
What comfort this brings when we grow weary! God does not forget or abandon His purposes. We can depend on Him to keep His word, even if their fulfillment spans generations. He remains steadfast through every season of life.
The Timing of Elizabeth’s Pregnancy Connects Jesus’ Coming to Old Testament Promises
Finally, the precise timing of Elizabeth’s miraculous pregnancy also carries significance. The angel tells Zechariah the long-silent prophecy of Malachi is now reaching fulfillment as John will go in the spirit of Elijah (Luke 1:17). Why does God choose this particular moment to break 400 years of prophetic silence?
The timing connects Jesus’ coming directly with Daniel’s prophecy about the arrival of the Messiah. In Daniel 9:25, an angel reveals to Daniel:
“Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks” (Dan 9:25 NKJV)
This gives a timeline from the command to rebuild Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile to the coming of the “Messiah the Prince”. Scholars agree the 483-year countdown (7 weeks + 62 weeks) predicted the timeframe when the Messiah would appear. But when did it begin? The command to restore Jerusalem came in 445 B.C. Remarkably, tracing 483 years forward from this decree brings us to A.D. 39.
Now consider Elizabeth’s miraculous pregnancy around 39-40 B.C. Do you see the connection? After centuries of prophecy, John’s conception aligned with Daniel’s predicted Messianic window. The long-waiting forerunner arrived on schedule, just before the Messiah Himself. God’s perfect timing linked John and Jesus’ births to display the fulfillment of Old Testament promise.
What stunning evidence of God’s sovereignty across centuries! He orchestrates all things according to His divine purposes and appointed times. We may wonder at His plan and timing, but can trust He interweaves each detail with perfect skill. Our faithful God keeps His word.
The stories of Elizabeth and John remind us God remains at work behind the scenes. Though promises tarry, His purposes will ripen in proper season. He works miracles beyond what we can ask or imagine. And He remains ever faithful, even when we wait.
May Elizabeth’s story encourage you today that “with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:37 NKJV). He moves in power to fulfill His purposes in our lives – and in the world – in His perfect timing. As we expectantly await the fullness of His kingdom, we can trust His work goes beyond what we see or understand. Dear friend, be of good courage. The God who answered Elizabeth’s longing across long years remains sovereign. He holds our times – and the fulfillment of all His promises – in His hands.