6-Birth and Preparation of Jesus Christ
Mary visits Elizabeth
A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town 40where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 _ At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
42 _ Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “You are blessed by God above all other women, and your child is blessed. 43What an honor this is, that the mother of my Lord should visit me! 44When you came in and greeted me, my baby jumped for joy the instant I heard your voice! 45You are blessed, because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”
“Oh, how I praise the Lord.
47 How I rejoice in God my Savior!
and now generation after generation
will call me blessed.
49 For he, the Mighty One, is holy,
and he has done great things for me.
50 His mercy goes on from generation to generation,
to all who fear him.
51 His mighty arm does tremendous things!
How he scatters the proud and haughty ones!
52 He has taken princes from their thrones
and exalted the lowly.
53 He has satisfied the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away with empty hands.
He has not forgotten his promise to be merciful.
55 For he promised our ancestors—Abraham and his children—
to be merciful to them forever.”
Apparently the Holy Spirit told Elizabeth that Mary’s child was the Messiah because Elizabeth called her young relative “the mother of my Lord” as she greeted her. As Mary rushed off to visit her relative, she must have been wondering if the events of the last few days were real. Elizabeth’s greeting must have strengthened her faith. Mary’s pregnancy may have seemed impossible, but her wise relative believed in the Lord’s faithfulness and rejoiced in Mary’s blessed condition.
Even though she herself was pregnant with a long-awaited son, Elizabeth could have envied Mary, whose son would be even greater than her own. Instead, she was filled with joy that the mother of her Lord would visit her. Have you ever envied people whom God has apparently singled out for special blessing? A cure for jealousy is to rejoice with those people, realizing that God uses his people in ways best suited to his purpose.
This song is often called the Magnificat, the first word in the Latin translation of this passage. Mary’s song has often been used as the basis for choral music and hymns. Like Hannah, the mother of Samuel (1 Samuel 2:1-10), Mary glorified God in song for what he was going to do for the world through her. Notice that in both songs, God is pictured as a champion of the poor, the oppressed, and the despised.
When Mary said, “And now generation after generation will call me blessed,” was she being proud? No, she was recognizing and accepting the gift God had given her. If Mary had denied her incredible position, she would have been throwing God’s blessing back at him. Pride is refusing to accept God’s gifts or taking credit for what God has done; humility is accepting the gifts and using them to praise and serve God. Don’t deny, belittle, or ignore your gifts. Thank God for them and use them to his glory.
God kept his promise to Abraham to be merciful to God’s people forever (Genesis 22:16-18). Christ’s birth fulfilled the promise, and Mary understood this. She was not surprised when her special son eventually announced that he was the Messiah. She had known Jesus’ mission from before his birth. Some of God’s promises to Israel are found in 2 Samuel 22:50, 51; Psalms 89:2-4; 103:17, 18; Micah 7:18-20.
Because travel was not easy, long visits were customary. Mary must have been a great help to Elizabeth, who was experiencing the discomforts of a first pregnancy in old age.
How might Mary have felt when Elizabeth greeted her like this? How is she “blessed” and encouraged?
For what does Mary praise God in this song? What contrasts does she make in verses 51-53? How do these reflect her feelings about God? About herself?
Who are the “proud,” the “rulers,” and the rich,” whose overthrow she celebrates? How will Jesus fulfill the themes of this song?
What would a diary from this 3-month visit reveal(v.56)?
What does Mary’s faith(vv.38-45) model for you?
Of the attributes of God celebrated in Mary’s song, which do you appreciate the most? Which challenges you the most? Why?
How does your life reflect God’s concern for justice, mercy, and deliverance? Would Mary consider you “”God’s humble servant” or a “proud, rich ruler”? Why?