Reader: “You are blessed”
Response: “because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”
Scripture: Luke 1:39-45
A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”
Let’s walk through the events you’ve just read and then make some observations. Only a short time after hearing the news from Gabriel, the now pregnant Mary headed off to visit her cousin Elizabeth. We’re not sure when Joseph heard the news. My guess is that Mary told him immediately and maybe they decided it would be best if she left town for a while. At any rate, Mary stayed for the next three months with Elizabeth and Zechariah leaving them around the time John was born.
When Mary entered Elizabeth’s home and greeted her, the sixth month in utero baby John leaped for joy upon hearing Mary’s voice, at which point Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth affirmed Mary’s faith in believing that the Lord would do what he said. Mary is often underappreciated and minimized in evangelical Christianity in reaction to Roman Catholic doctrine. Without a doubt, Mary was a most remarkable young woman.
Now for some general observations. In the midst of a most stressful time, Mary went to relatives where she would feel comfortable among loved ones. No doubt the general population of Nazareth did not believe her story and assumed she was lying. This is confirmed from elsewhere in Scripture (E.g. Luke 4:22). In unsettling times, often close family can bring comfort and solace.
From the womb of Elizabeth we know that six month old babies can hear. An unborn child can be filled with the Holy Spirit. An unborn baby has a soul and is a living person from the moment of conception (Jeremiah 1:5, Ps. 119:73, Eccl 11:5). John was a most remarkable infant with astounding spiritual perception. Since the Lord has ordered each day of our lives and has known us from the dawn of creation, he certainly starts his “ordering” the days beginning months before we enter this world as we are developing and preparing for our arrival. In the words of the Orthodox Study Bible p.1364, “This truth deals a fatal blow to the idea that abortion is justifiable because the fetus is not yet a person.” We are loved into being by our heavenly Father. Paul writes, “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lies in you and was given to you by God. You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” (I Cor.6:19-20) These words are quite a contrast to the erroneous slogan of our day, “My body, my choice.” Sounds like Eve’s perspective and we know how that path turned out!
There is one other most important thing here concerning Mary. Sometimes she is referred to as the “Second Eve.” Elizabeth’s comment at the end is noteworthy. “You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.” In other words, Mary put herself in the Lord’s hands, submitting her whole self in trusting what God had said regarding her. The result was she gave birth to the Second Adam, as Jesus is referred to by Paul (I Cor.15:45). Eve when confronted with the choice of believing what God had said or believing a lie, chose the lie. The first Adam followed his wife and the result was that man experienced natural earthly death and became a slave to sin. The Second Adam, born of a Second Eve (Mary), believed the Father and opened the way to a spiritual eternal body. The first Eve’s response was “I want my way” and her husband went along with her, whereas Mary’s response was “I am the Lord’s servant” and her earthly husband honored her faith. Her Son followed with “Not my will but thine be done.” Whereas our earthly mother, Eve, brought sin and death, the earthly mother, Mary, brought forth the Son of God who offers forgiveness for sin and eternal life.
Music: “Mary Did You Know?” 7thAve Band with Chris Rupp
Our Father in heaven, may we have the trusting transparent faith of Mary, the supportive, steady faith of Joseph, the rejoicing faith of Elizabeth, the exuberant faith of unborn baby John, and the submissive faith of the baby in the manger who humbled himself to the point of death that he might bring reconciliation to the fallen world of our first parents. We pray this in the name of Jesus, who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen. ―Daniel Sharp