The Bible is full of fascinating stories about human relationships, including friendships. In fact, stories of friendships are demonstrated throughout the Old and New Testaments. God wants us to have relationships — not just of the marital and familial kind but deep and abiding friendships as well. True friendship provides us with support, love and enjoyment and is nothing short of a gift from God.
The story of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Elizabeth as told in Luke 1, is an example of an undisputable friendship that serves as an example to us even in modern times.
Both Mary and Elizabeth had found favor with God, and both were chosen by Him to fulfill the prophecy of the Old Testament.
Elizabeth, who was Mary’s cousin, was pregnant with John the Baptist. God had chosen her to be the mother of a man who had been prophesied about generations before. However, Mary received an even greater mission. After the angel Gabriel had visited her and told her she would be giving birth to the son of God, she was understandably worried and reached out to Elizabeth for comfort. As we know from the culture of those times, being pregnant and unmarried was not acceptable. Mary was reasonably worried about Elizabeth’s reaction.
The Bible tells us that when Mary approached Elizabeth with the news, Elizabeth was so excited about that the baby she was carrying actually jumped for joy in her womb and she exclaimed, “Blessed are you among women!”
Mary stayed with Elizabeth in her home for about three months. It was obvious that Mary needed the comfort of Elizabeth’s faithful friendship. Had Mary stayed in Nazareth, she could have been isolated or ostracized, or worse. Mary didn’t want to be alone, and Elizabeth became her companion and confidante.
At some point in our lives, we all have experienced what it’s like to have hard times, struggle and be in need of genuine friendship. Through a faithful Christ-like heart, we have the power to be ‘an Elizabeth’ to ‘a Mary’ and to offer understanding, hope and encouragement instead of judgment.