Devotional #2 (10/1/12). Mary and Elizabeth praise God for their miracles.
Intro: Last week we covered the beginning of Luke which talked about an elderly couple named Zacharias and Elizabeth who hadn’t been able to get pregnant. An angel told Zacharias that they would have a son but Zacharias doubt that could happen so he was rendered unable to speak until the son was born.
This Week’s Reading: Luke 1:26-56.
vv. 26-27. We get the location (Nazareth), the time (Elizabeth was in her “sixth month”, also in v. 36), the people (Mary, Joseph and the angel Gabriel) and the mission (God sent Gabriel to tell Mary the following).
vv. 28-33. Gabriel greets Mary with “Rejoice” because what he was announcing was what the entire world had been waiting for whether they knew it or not. He then tells her she is “highly favored”, that the Lord is with her and she’s “blessed”. How exciting this must have been for her to hear that God favored her and she would receive grace! But she was scared (“troubled”) because of the angel’s presence and she was confused by his ‘hello.’ He tells her she’ll have a son and to call him JESUS. The name in the Greek is “Jesus” meaning “Savior” and in Hebrew is “Jeshua” meaning “the LORD is salvation” which is a direct translation of the Hebrew word “Messiah” from Daniel 9:25 (Source 1). Gabriel continues that Jesus will be on the throne of David and “reign over the house of Jacob” which are references to where His human bloodline came from. But notice for how long Jesus will rule this kingdom: “forever” and “will be no end.” So the kingdom isn’t just here on earth (as we see later, Jesus never ruled anything on earth) but it is one that is spiritual and eternal.
vv. 34-35. Mary says, ‘I’m a virgin, how can I have a baby, I’ve never had sex?’ (confirmed twice in v. 27 above). It isn’t a new thing for people to try and discredit or not believe in the virgin birth – the very woman who would have this miracle happen to her recognized how impossible it was! Notice that the angel explains that it will be the Holy Spirit who puts the baby in her womb. So we see that Jesus was fully God (“Son of God”) and fully human (being in Mary’s womb). For more see Mt. 1:23. God loved us so much He became like His creation to save them from their sins! See Colossians 2:9. All we have to do is recognize that we’re not perfect and accept His gift.
vv. 36-38. Gabriel tells Mary that her relative, Elizabeth, is pregnant. He says “for with God nothing will be impossible.” This is both a reassurance to Mary that the miracle of her virgin birth will happen because of what God has already been doing in Elizabeth and a reassurance to us. Once we recognize that God is greater than we can understand we see that nothing is impossible for Him. If we have a bill and no money to pay it, God can pay that bill. If we have a class we don’t think we can pass, God can help us. In Romans 8:28 it says “all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” The four main things are: “all things”, “good”, “those who love God” and “His purpose.” This means God will make every single thing that happens end up good according to His will (not ours) for the person who loves God. Mary recognized this and agreed with God’s plan (v.38).
In-between these verses the Holy Spirit puts the seed of Jesus into Mary. But we don’t really get an explanation of how. John Simpson explains “…we are concerned here with the entry of the infinite God into his own creation, and this is something that cannot be described, any more than the act of creation itself can be described” (Source 2).
vv. 39-45. We see Mary rush to Elizabeth’s house and when she says “hi” John the Baptist leaps in Elizabeth’s womb. I am a father and I remember when my children would kick in my wife’s belly so Elizabeth would have been used to an active boy’s kicks. But this was something else, this was the Holy Spirit giving confirmation that Mary carried the Messiah. Elizabeth supernaturally knew Mary carried a baby and asks why she was blessed to be in the same room (showing humility). Then a second time she prophesizes, this time that Mary is blessed having God talk to her.
vv. 46-56. Mary responds to Elizabeth with a song praising God. We see that Mary was saturated by God. She says her “soul magnifies the Lord” which is an amazing way to say ‘God shines through me and like a magnifying glass I make Him clear to others.’ In v. 49 she exclaims in the past tense that “God has done great things for me”. This wasn’t in reference to the great things God would do but she was counting her past blessings while looking forward. This incredible woman is pointing out God’s promises are always kept and she praises Him for it.
Summary: Mary and Elizabeth are blessed by God’s miracles and they can do nothing but worship Him. In a culture and age when women were viewed as inferior we see the Bible giving their perspectives as credible and important and that God blessed them greatly! We can learn much from these fantastic role models and yet they were always pointing towards the Lord Jesus Christ. It is in Jesus that we have our Savior since He was tempted in every way like us but never sinned (see Hebrews 4:15). He tells us that He loves us (see John 3:16) yet confirms He is the only way to Heaven (see John 14:6)!
Source 1: MacArthur Study Bible, notes on Matthew, pp. 1393-94.
Source 2: Eerdman’s Handbook to the Bible, editor: Alexander, article by John Simpson, p. 515.