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Mary and Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-56)



Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice and said, "Blessed {are} you among women, and blessed {is} the fruit of your womb! And how has it {happened} to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed {is} she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord."

 

Mary arose (or set out with purpose) to go meet with Elizabeth after hearing the news of her pregnancy in the previous section of this text which we discussed in the last episode of the podcast. The place where she was going was called the “hill country” of Judea to the city where her cousin lived. Mary was in a hurry to get to see her cousin who shared in the blessings of the Lord with her.


When Mary entered Elizabeth’s home, she sounded forth a greeting to her. Just quickly let us mention the greeting of one another. The Bible mentions this type of greeting between fellow Christians.


“Greet one another with a holy kiss”

is used 4 times in the scriptures and the idea of simply greeting others is found throughout the text of the NT (Read Rom.16 for multiple examples)


It is such a blessing to be warmly greeted by others when you enter their presence. We want to make sure that in our homes, in our assemblies, and daily lives, we are a people that extend greetings. How do you greet others?


The text tells us that when Mary greeted Elizabeth, upon hearing it, the baby (John) leaped inside the womb of Elizabeth.  At that same time, the Holy Spirit came into Elizabeth. Any time that the Holy Spirit enters the body of a human being, indeed something special has transpired. Since salvation was coming through the Savior, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit moved Elizabeth here, and her baby jumped within her. John would tell about the salvation to come, and Jesus would offer it to all who would come to Him and make Him their Lord. In this case, the Son of God and His forerunner, John, were in the same house together while in the wombs of their mothers. When Mary’s greeting was sounded, John leaped for joy. It has been said that a baby can actually hear and be responsive while inside the womb. It is not that they are knowledgeable of their surroundings, but rather, based upon the feelings (emotions) of their mother and the excitement that is in their heart, the baby will respond accordingly. This certainly points to the fact that life begins at conception and not at birth. In this case, the Holy Spirit revealed through Luke that it was for joy that John leaped in Elizabeth’s womb. Indeed it was a joyous unfolding of events that was taking place in this text. The forerunner of the Christ would be born to prepare the way of the Lord, while the Lord Himself would come and save His people from their sins. O’ what a joy must have lingered on this occasion.


We need to have in our hearts this same joy as we hear this great news in our study today! Jesus has come to offer salvation. Elizabeth knew that something special was happening, as she turned to Mary and cried with a loud voice,


"Blessed {are} you among women, and blessed {is} the fruit of your womb! And how has it {happened} to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me?”

The baby that Mary was carrying was indeed special, as he would be the Son of the most high…Lord of heaven and earth.


The phrase, “blessed are you among women” in this text, is found in the oldest manuscripts, unlike the similar phrase in verse 28 ("blessed art thou among women" is not substantiated). It needs to be mentioned again though, that this is not a passage to base an argument for some of the error regarding exalting Mary and giving her a place of praise and adoration. This text is simply saying that she is the happiest of all women, and will be well spoken of, since she can be the one to give birth to the Messiah. This is not a reason for us to pray to or through Mary or that she is to be honored any more than another faithful servant of the Lord. She is not to be worshipped. The fruit of Mary’s womb was blessed (well spoken of) Yes, since He would be God in the flesh, he would be worthy of praise. He was going to be the Lord of lords. The distinction must be made between the worship of Jesus and not of Mary the mother of Jesus.


Elizabeth asked,


“how has it {happened} to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me?"

It is a great privilege to have the Lord’s presence in your home and in your life. It is also a great statement of faith on Elizabeth’s part, to acknowledge that Mary’s baby was going to be her Lord. Elizabeth wasn’t so impressed with the fact that Mary was with her, but that the mother of her Lord was with her. It was Jesus that takes the center stage in this home on this occasion. Had it not been for His coming, none of the language used in this text would make any sense at all.


This section of our text concludes with the words of Elizabeth as she continues to cry out,


“And blessed {is} she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord." 

Elizabeth mentioned that Mary’s faith was also profound, in that she didn’t doubt what the angel had revealed to her from the Lord God. When God tells us something in the form of a promise, how do we respond? Do we doubt and sit idle or do we believe and trust through obedience? This is important, because our faith is known by what we do with what we have been told by God. I can hear the Lord repeating similar words to the faithful on the judgment day (See Matt 25:34).

 

And Mary said: "My soul exalts the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; for behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; and holy is His name. AND HIS MERCY IS UPON GENERATION AFTER GENERATION TOWARD THOSE WHO FEAR HIM. He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered {those who were} proud in the thoughts of their heart. He has brought down rulers from {their} thrones, and has exalted those who were humble. HE HAS FILLED THE HUNGRY WITH GOOD THINGS; and sent away the rich empty-handed. He has given help to Israel His servant, in remembrance of His mercy, As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever." And Mary stayed with her about three months, and {then} returned to her home.

 

Mary begins this next section of the text starting at verse 46 by saying, 


"My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.”

While not a single one of us in this study have any doubts why she would say these things, Mary actually goes on to describe why she exalts the Lord and rejoices in God as her Savior.


Mary first explains,


“For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; for behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed”

Not only will all speak well of Mary throughout every generation, but they will also receive similar blessings from the Lord if only they will be His humble bondslave in following her example (I Peter 5:6-7). We too can receive the Son of God in our lives and have him to dwell in us if we are living in trusting faith to the words of God (Gal. 2:20; also Rom. 8:9-11; John 14:18-23).


She continues,


"For the Mighty One has done great things for me; and holy is His name.” 

She tells of the great might of God and agrees that God has done great things for her. She exalts the Lord by saying that His name is holy. These phrases of thanksgiving, praise and reverence should fill our vocabulary when we realize the many great things that God has done for us. When we fear the Lord we are indeed going to be blessed by the mercy of God. Mary exclaimed,


"AND HIS MERCY IS UPON GENERATION AFTER GENERATION TOWARD THOSE WHO FEAR HIM."

Interestingly, there seems to be a connection between this example of God’s mercy in Mary’s generation with the generation in which Hannah lived and sought to have a son. (See I Sam 2:1-10). Indeed, God has promised to be merciful to all generations, if only they will serve Him faithfully (See Psalm 147:11; Acts 10:34-35). Those who humbly serve the Lord, can expect to be exalted and blessed by the God of heaven. Those who choose to be proud and arrogant, will be humbled and destroyed by the mighty arm of the Lord in the judgment to come.


Mary also said something to this effect in this text,


"He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered {those who were} proud in the thoughts of their heart. He has brought down rulers from {their} thrones, and has exalted those who were humble. HE HAS FILLED THE HUNGRY WITH GOOD THINGS; and sent away the rich empty-handed. He has given help to Israel His servant, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever."

Jesus taught while he was on the earth,


“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 14:11).

Just as God promised His mercy to Israel as they would humble themselves, here we see some of His humble bondslaves being blessed in fulfillment of His word (See Ezek 39:23-29). How humble are we today, in this blessed country before God?

 

God sent His Son Jesus, to be the representation of His mercy, grace and loving kindness. (Eph. 2:4-7). Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s mercy toward man, and Mary was carrying Him in her womb. No wonder she says that God’s arm performs mighty deeds. God’s arm is powerful and mighty and we need to prepare ourselves to receive blessings from His hand (See Psalm 89:11-14). This will require that we have humility and a willingness to do His will.


If you are hungry, God will fill you with good things. God will remember His promise of mercy, and will grant you the help that you need, if only you will recognize Him as the one who has the power to help you. Be a part of the true Israel of God and receive His blessings today. Join His people in a desire to serve Him faithfully until He comes again in judgment against all unrighteousness. You will be blessed. Notice the text says that Israel was “his servant” and this is why God blessed them. If they were not serving Him, God would have no reason to offer them mercy. This promise goes on as a promise forever to the descendants of Abraham. We are all his descendants in Christ and the salvation that he brought to us (See Acts 2:39).


The text tells us that Mary stayed with Elizabeth for 3 months until the time when Elizabeth approached her due date and then returned home. It is such a joyous thing to spend time with others. Thank God for godly women who serve others when they are in need (Acts 9:36; Rom. 16:2; Phil. 4:3)


This record of the time they spent together, reminds me of what Paul said in Philippians 4:4,


“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!”

Indeed, these two women had many reasons to rejoice, as they saw the Lord’s plan of redemption unfolding before their eyes.


I wonder what these women of God discussed together as the time approached for Elizabeth to give birth to John, knowing that he would usher in the coming of the Messiah. What did they say about Jesus before His birth? God was allowing them to be a part of His Master plan for saving man. Let’s rejoice together, this day, as we know what God has done to make redemption possible. 


Today, we know that not only was John and Jesus born, but we know that they lived out the purpose that God intended for them. John told of the coming of the Messiah and prepared the people by preaching repentance and the coming kingdom. Jesus came, teaching the people about the kingdom of heaven among them and the will of God, and then died to make pardon available for our sins if only we will do what He says. 


At this moment, we are not waiting for the Messiah to come and make salvation available, but today we are waiting for His second coming to judge the world in righteousness. So before we wrap up this episode, I want to encourage you to consider whether or not you have humbled yourself in submission to the Christ as His bond slave. Are you enjoying the spiritual blessings of Christ? Will you be ready to meet the Lord Jesus on His throne of judgment when the last great day comes? If I can help you to make a decision to obey the Lord today, please let me know. Let this be a day to rejoice over your salvation in Jesus.

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