The Book of Luke , The Worship of Mary and Elizabeth, Part II Ė Lesson 8
Luke 1:39-45, And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; 40And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. 41And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: 42And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. 43And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.
(1) Elisabeth seems to praise Mary before Mary has had any opportunity to explain anything to her.
(2) Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and her words were a divinely inspired utterance.
(3) Elisabethís praise is not for her blessing in the bearing of a child, but in the blessing bestowed on her by the visit of Mary.
(4) Elisabethís words served primarily as an encouragement to Mary.
After hearing the announcement by Gabriel of the coming of the Messiah though Mary, we can suppose that this announcement, although glorius and wonderful was almost too much for a mortal like Mary to carry alone.
So it must have been of great encouragement to Mary when she was received by Elisabeth with such words of blessing.
For: A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. Proverbs 25:11
One thing that mortals need is encouragement and we ought to encourage upon every opportunity.
We are somewhat like a sagging scaffold that needs to be propped up from time to time.
Moses said in Deut. 3:28, But charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him: for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which thou shalt see.
In saying this Moses recognized that our strength wanes over time and we need to be injected with new strength by encouragement.
Joshua was strong but his strength was not continuous and he needed an infusion of strength from time to time.
You say go to Christ for strength, but are we not ambassadors for Christ and are we not to act in Christís stead.
Are we not Christís arms and legs and his body?
Is you presence with another a time of encouragement or is it a time of murmuring and complaining against others and God?
Some sage has said: Is anyone happier because you passed his way? Does anyone remember that you spoke to him today?
What is encourage but to give courage to.
To give or to increase confidence of success.
To inspire with courage, spirit or strength of mind.
Encouragement is the act of giving courage, or confidence of success; it is incitement to action or to practice; it is incentive.
John Milton (1608Ė1674) who lived in the 15th century wrote these words that have lasted
Apt words have power to assuage
The tumors of a troubled mind
And are as balm to festeríd wounds.
So Elisabethís words, by the inspiration of the Spirit of God, were apt words, they were encouraging words, they were apples of gold in pictures of silver.
Rather than having to try to explain to Elisabeth what the angel had said to her about the virgin birth of her son, the Messiah, Mary learned that Elisabeth already knew of the great event.
What a relief to Mary that Elisabeth was told this by the same Spirit that dwelled in Mary.
So Elisabethís praise served as confirmation of Gabrielís words.
There were now two witnesses who could share in this great news of the coming Messiah.
So Mary was totally free to share the details of the angelís revelation, without any hesitation.
Elisabeth already knew, believed, and rejoiced in the truth of God, spoken through Gabriel.
(5) Elisabeth praises God for much more than those things that Zachariah was told.
When we look back at Lukeís report of what Zacharias was told by Gabriel, it was simply that the son God was giving him and his wife would be the forerunner of Messiah.
This of course communicated to Zacharias that the Messiah was coming soon because the forerunner was to be born soon.
But there is no mention by Gabriel of how Messiah would come to earth.
But both Zacharias and Elisabeth had the scriptures which told them much of how the Messiah would come.
Everyone who knew the scriptures knew that Messiah would come by a Jewish mother.
The Old Testament tells us that He would be born of a virgin and now the Holy Spirit had revealed to Elisabeth that that virgin was Mary her cousin.
So it is considered that Elisabeth knew from the Scriptures that Messiah would be both human and divine, and that He would be born of a virgin.
With these things already known by the Holy Spiritís illumination of the Scriptures, the Spirit of God informed Elisabeth, that Mary was the one through whom Messiah would be born.
46And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, 47And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. 48For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 49For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. 50And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. 51He hath showed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 52He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. 53He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. 54He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; 55As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.
So Mary immediately responds to the praise of Elisabeth by offering her own praise to God and in her praise magnifies God to Elisabeth.
This was a magnification service.
Let us look at Maryís praise of God, let us look at what she says to make God big so others can see.
(1) Maryís psalm of praise reveals a repeated use of the terminology and theology of the Old Testament.
Virtually every commentator agrees that Maryís praise is filled with Old Testament allusions and references.
Maryís magnificat is in the same form of a psalm and uses the terminology of the Psalms and the theology of the Psalms.
Mary dwells on the character of God, particularly His grace, which is bestowed on the humble and the oppressed.
It is almost as if Mary was reading from her Bible but we should remember that all godly Israelites from their childhood days knew by heart songs from the Old Testament and often sang them in the home circle and at celebrations.
Maryís magnificat shows us clearly how much she had been taught of the scriptures and that teaching came out in her magnification of God before Elisabeth.
(2) Maryís praise begins with her grateful response to the grace God has shown to her, a humble servant of the Lord.
In verses 46-49, Mary praises God for His mercy as expressed toward her.
46And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, 47And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. 48For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 49For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.
She rejoices in God, who is her Savior (v. 47).
God looked upon her humble estate with compassion; consequently she will be esteemed blessed by all future generations (v. 48).
Godís compassion on her has revealed both His power and His holiness (ďMighty One,Ē ďholy is His name,Ē v. 49).
Mary does not in any way view herself as better or holier than anyone else.
We can never boast of our blessings as blessings given because of some worthiness on our part.
All we can boast in is the Lord.
Psalm 34:1-3, I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.
Mary views herself as a sinner who needs Godís salvation.
Mary views herself as the Lordís servant and in a condition of humility a proper receiver of His mercy and His grace.
There is no hint that she thinks God has chosen her to be the mother of Messiah due to her blessedness, her goodness, or her sinlessness.
But this magnificat shows us that she believes that her blessedness is the result of Godís sovereign and gracious choice to use her as His instrument.
God choosing us to be his instrument in no way indicates worthiness on our part, but only worthiness on Christís part.
In verse 48 her blessedness is viewed as the result of Godís grace.
Mary places herself in quite a different place then she is placed in the worship of the Catholic Church.
She takes no place of authority over Christ but she is totally humbled before him.