WE SHOULD REJOICE IN THE BLESSINGS THAT FLOW OUT OF THE CHARACTER OF GOD
God’s actions flow out of His attributes. What He does is directly tied to Who He is. We need a passion to know God in a deeper, more intimate way. We need to focus more on the attributes of God and how they are connected to what He does for us. The events recorded here are pivotal in human history. We are talking about the upcoming births of both John the Baptist and the promised Messiah. Yet God chose to work thru two otherwise insignificant women. Their faith and worship and rejoicing set a godly example for our own spiritual walk.
Geldenhuys: It is striking that Luke alone, the educated and artistically disposed Greek, has committed to writing the songs of Elisabeth, Mary, Zacharias and Simeon and the hymn of the angels.
WE SHOULD REJOICE IN THE BLESSINGS THAT FLOW OUT OF THE CHARACTER OF GOD
(:39-40) PRELUDE – MARY VISITS ELIZABETH /
JOHN THE BAPTIST VISITS JESUS
“Now at this time Mary arose and went with haste to the hill country, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth.”
Why did Mary go to visit Elizabeth?
– Somebody she could share openly with; similar experiences; shared faith and joy
– Shows importance of fellowship and community
– Their unusual pregnancies were connected
J. Ligon Duncan: this passage is the visitation, the visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, but perhaps even more deeply the visitation of the Savior to Elizabeth and to her son, John the Baptist, and it’s a remarkable story. . . Now we don’t know how old Mary was, but she was probably a very, very, very young teenager–thirteen, fourteen years old perhaps. And she’s visiting her cousin Elizabeth, who is old enough to be her great-grandmother. And they’re both pregnant at the same time. [Now that’s just a little weird!] And she’s traveled almost a hundred miles, all the way from Nazareth in Galilee, all the way down into the hill country of Judah, and they are going to commune together a little bit. They’re going to experience some fellowship: not just the fellowship of cousins, not just the fellowship of kin, not just the fellowship of two women who are expecting children; but communion, fellowship in God’s providence for their lives because they have been called to fulfill the promise of God in Genesis 3:15 that a Messiah is going to be sent into the world — the seed of the woman, who is going to crush the serpent’s head. They are going to be respectively the mother of the forerunner of the Messiah and the mother of the Messiah, and they needed to have words and they needed to have fellowship, and they needed to commune in that glorious (and no doubt overwhelming) reality.
I. (:41-45) INTERACTION BETWEEN MARY AND ELIZABETH
A. (:41) Something Big is Happening
1. Womb Bounce
“And it came about that when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb;”
J Vernon McGee – What we are dealing with here is miraculous, and there is no use trying to offer a natural explanation. You either believe what happened in these verses or you do not. I am so weary of people today, especially preachers, who try to appear intellectual by attempting to explain away the miracles in the Bible. You either accept the miracles of the Bible or you do not, and what took place in these verses was a miracle. This woman is filled with the Holy Spirit, and the babe leaps in her womb.
Piper: That’s all the confirmation Mary needs. She sees clearly a most remarkable thing about God: He is about to change the course of all human history; the most important three decades in all of time are about to begin. And where is God? Occupying himself with two obscure, humble women—one old and barren, one young and virginal. And Mary is so moved by this vision of God, the lover of the lowly, that she breaks out in song—a song that has come to be known as the Magnificat.
J. Ligon Duncan: Maximus of Turin, one of the early church fathers, says: “Not yet born, John already prophesies.” He’s already pointing to the Savior! In his mother’s womb he’s already pointing to the Savior! The church fathers used to say that John is the only child who ever turned his mother’s womb into a pulpit. That’s exactly what John does. With joy he responds to the presence of the Messiah. And isn’t that how we’re supposed to respond at the presence of the Messiah, our Savior, our Lord Jesus, the Christ? Isn’t that how we’re supposed to respond? And in the womb, John shows us the way.
2. Holy Spirit Activity
“and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.”
B. (:42-45) Elizabeth Joyfully Pronounces Blessing
1. (:42a) High Privilege for Mary
“And she cried out with a loud voice, and said, ‘Blessed among women are you,’”
2. (:42b) Blessing Upon Baby Jesus in the Womb
“and blessed is the fruit of your womb!”
J. Ligon Duncan: Do you see the humility of Elizabeth? An angel has come to her husband to tell her that she will be the bearer of the forerunner of the Messiah. An angel has come to her husband and told her that in her son… the prophecies of Malachi and Elijah, and Isaiah and Jeremiah…the prophecies of these great Old Testament prophets will be fulfilled in the person of her son. And Mary walks in the door, and Elizabeth has nothing to say about herself.
3. (:43-44) High Privilege for Elizabeth and Her Baby
“And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy.”
4. (:45) Commendation of Faith of Mary
“And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.”
II. (:46-55) MARY’S MAGNIFICAT
[cf. parallel statements in the Beatitudes]
Name Magnificat comes from the first word of the song in the Latin translation
many OT biblical references in the song – Mary knew the Scriptures
Leon Morris: there are quite a number of resemblances to the song of Hannah (1 Sa. 2:1-10). But we should notice a difference in tone. Hannah’s song is a shout of triumph in the face of here enemies, Mary’s a humble contemplation of the mercies of God.
A. (:46-48) Recognition of Her Blessed State
1. (:46-47) State of Rejoicing in God
“And Mary said: ‘My soul exalts the Lord, 47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.’”
Mary was not sinless; recognized her need for a Savior
2. (:48a) State of Elevation from Humble Standing
“For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave;”
3. (:48b) State of Perpetual Honor
“For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.”
B. (:49-54) Recitation of God’s Blessings Flowing Out of His Character
1. (:49) Holiness – Connected with Performance of Great Things
“For the Mighty One has done great things for me; and holy is His name.”
Thabiti Anyabwile: The point is God, not Mary. There’s not the slightest hint of Mary worship, or Mariolatry, in this passage. Our Catholic friends err significantly when they exalt Mary to comediator with Christ. Mary herself exalted God for his greatness.
2. (:50) Mercy – Connected with Fear of the Lord
“And His mercy is upon generation after generation toward those who fear Him.”
Lenski: Fear denotes the awe which fills the heart and reflects itself in the bearing of those who recognize aright God’s majesty and greatness. His power, holiness, and righteousness deer them from treating him and his commandments lightly by disobedience whereas his love, grace, and mercy move them to honor and to obey him with childlike reverence. The fear is childlike, not slavish.
3. (:51) Power – Connected with Dispersing the Proud
“He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.”
4. (:52) Sovereignty – Connected with Bringing Down and Raising Up Leaders
“He has brought down rulers from their thrones, and has exalted those who were humble.”
5. (:53) Goodness – Connected with Provision for the Needy and Frustration of the Self Sufficient
“He has filled the hungry with good things; and sent away the rich empty-handed.”
Geldenhuys: She sings of the mighty reversal of things which in principle has already been accomplished by the entrance of God upon the course of history and in the life of mankind, through the coming Messiah, her promised Son. In God’s choice of two persons of humble life like herself and Elisabeth she sees the powerful revolutionary principle according to which God is going to renew everything through the Messiah. This principle entails a complete reversal of all human opinions of greatness and insignificance. The proud, those who exalt themselves and take not account of God, He puts down – beaten by His mighty arm. The powers that be, oppressors who tryannise over the poor and lowly, are deprived of their power and high standing, while those who are truly humble are exalted to great things. The hungry, those who realise their own need and yearn for spiritual food, are blessed. But the rich, those who are self-satisfied and proud, are shamed in the imagination of their hearts.
6. (:54) Faithfulness – Connected with Covenant Promises
“He has given help to Israel His servant, in remembrance of His mercy, 55 As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his offspring forever.”
Thabiti Anyabwile: We should praise God for keeping his promises even before we see the promises fulfilled. That’s what these women of faith do.
(:56) POSTLUDE – CONCLUSION OF THE VISIT
“And Mary stayed with her about three months, and then returned to her home.”
Leon Morris: Mary left before John was born. There would then be much excitement and many visitors. Mary, in her condition, might not wish to be there for that.