Questions From Readers
Was Mary who became the mother of Jesus already pregnant when she went to visit her relative Elizabeth?
Yes, she evidently was.
In Luke chapter 1, we read first about the pregnancy of Elizabeth, the wife of priest Zechariah, who bore John (the Baptizer). When Elizabeth was “in her sixth month the angel Gabriel” visited Mary to inform her that she would become pregnant and give birth to the “Son of the Most High.” (Luke 1:26, 30-33) But when did Mary become pregnant?
Luke’s account goes on to relate that Mary thereupon traveled to Judah to visit her pregnant relative Elizabeth. When the two women met, the infant in Elizabeth’s womb (John) leaped. Elizabeth referred to ‘the fruit of Mary’s womb,’ and called Mary “the mother of my Lord.” (Luke 1:39-44) The logical conclusion therefore is that Mary had already conceived, that she was pregnant when she went to see Elizabeth.
Luke 1:56 reads: “Then Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her own home.” This verse is not giving a precise calculation down to the exact calendar day. It says “about three months,” which would put Elizabeth in her ninth month of pregnancy.
After having been of help to Elizabeth during the latter part of her pregnancy, Mary departed for her home in Nazareth. Possibly Mary realized that once Elizabeth gave birth (to John), there might be many visitors, some of them even being relatives. That could be awkward or embarrassing for an unmarried young woman who was herself pregnant. How far along was Mary’s pregnancy when she left for Nazareth? Since she was with Elizabeth “about three months,” Mary would probably have been late in the third month or early in the fourth month of her pregnancy when she returned to Nazareth.