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Mary Visits Elizabeth: An Amazing Support System for Two Women in Unusual Circumstances (Luke 1:39-56)

Lessons from the Birth of Jesus Christ, Part Two

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Luke 1:39-56

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

 And Mary said:

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home. – (NIV)

Three months before Elizabeth would give birth, Mary visited her. She traveled south from Nazareth to the hill country of Judea. The two women are relatives (1:36). Some say  they were cousins.

Nazareth to Judea

Map of Mary’s route (Source: logos.com)

Upon hearing Mary’s greetings, the baby leaped in her womb. The Greek word for ‘leaped’ is σκιρτάω (skirtao) means ‘to jump’, that is, sympathetically move. It could also mean leap (for joy). (Strong-Lite) The baby in her womb ‘sympathetically moved or leaped in joy’ upon hearing Mary’s voice. It is evident that Elizabeth is filled with joy and as the passage says, she was “filled with the Holy Spirit.” Thus, the ‘sympathetic movement’ of her baby and her declaration of blessing for Mary and for the child in her womb were all prompted by the Holy Spirit.

The next statement of Elizabeth, showed her great dignity and honor having visited by Mary, whom she recognized as the mother of her Lord. Aside from this, she felt favored because after waiting for a long time, finally, she is pregnant. She and her husband Zechariah waited for so long to have a baby. When her conception was announced to Zechariah, the angel said, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.” (1:13 NIV) Thus, her pregnancy was the answer to her husband’s prayer (probably, their prayer). It came in their old age, no wonder Zechariah was struck by doubt or lack of faith and inquired, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” (1:18, NIV) As a punishment, he became mute until the child was born.

Mary’s Song in 1:46-55, patterned after Hannah’s Song in 1 Sam. 2:1-10, is also known as “The Magnificat” because of the opening line, “My soul magnifies the Lord…” (1:46, NKJV). It speaks about “justice for the poor, hungry, and oppressed.” (Gundry) This description could be based on verse 53 which says, “He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty” (NIV), which may very well summarize the message of the song. It is suitable for Mary’s unusual circumstances having found favor in the eyes of the Lord despite being lowly or poor and being pregnant while still a virgin and betrothed to Joseph. [Read more…The Announcement to Mary (Luke 1:26-38)]

In spite of these unusual circumstances, these two women who were close relatives, found an amazing support system having supportive husbands and most especially, being with each other, exchanging rich salutations and blessings. Above all, they are under the providential power of the Most High God through his Holy Spirit.

Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.” (1:56)

We all need an amazing support system! If you have one, take care of them and keep them because they’re rare! For those who are still finding, keep praying, it will come in God’s appointed time.

 

 

References:

Costas, Stergiou. The Word Bible Study Software, 2003-2015.

Gundry, Robert H. A Survey of the New Testament. Third Edition. Manila, Philippines: OMF Literature, Inc., 2002.

MySword for Android. Riversoft Ministry, 2011-2018.

Online:

Bible Gateway. www.biblegateway.com

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