Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Advent Reading Day 9 – The Joyful Meeting (Luke 1:39-45)

“Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.”” (Luke 1:39–45, NASB95)

After being told by the angel Gabriel that she would become the mother of the Son of God and that her relative Elizabeth was also going to bear a son, Mary took the angel’s hint and quickly went to find Elizabeth. Elizabeth and her husband didn’t live down the street, but off in the hill country in the city of Judah. From the text I imagine that Mary didn’t waste any time getting there, and upon entering their home and greeting them we read that John did as well. From the womb when Elizabeth heard Mary’s voice the baby leapt, and it was at that time that Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Being filled with the Spirit of God, Elizabeth cried out loudly pronouncing a blessing on Mary and her baby. Not having been told who it was that John was going to be the predecessor to, when the Spirit filled Elizabeth she recognized Mary as the one who would bear this special child, and she knew her child as the Son of God—her Lord. Seeing some of the humility that marked Elizabeth she then asked how it was that the mother of the Lord would come to her home. Just as Mary saw herself as unworthy of being selected by God, Elizabeth was herself humble with both of them recognizing that they had been greatly blessed by being chosen as the mothers of these special sons.

Asking Mary why she who was carrying the Lord God would come to visit her, Elizabeth then told her about that something special that all expectant mothers know—the feeling of life moving within her. But Elizabeth recognized this movement by her son to be more than just a poking foot or tumbling about. She recognized that it was at the moment that Mary spoke that her son leapt in her womb and she described this movement as a joy filled response. These are incredible words, “For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy.” What an amazing affirmation for Mary who raced off to see her pregnant relative. Without Mary telling her all that the angel had said, Elizabeth and her son both knew from God that they were in the presence of the Lord.

The last we read of Elizabeth’s greeting was a blessing which she pronounced for Mary who heard the word of God and believed it to be true. This is what we saw in Mary’s response to Gabriel, saying that if this is what God wants, then let it be done exactly as He desires. Mary and Elizabeth were both on board for the great things that God had in store for them. Both of them were going to experience the great joy of giving birth to very special sons, and both of them (if Elizabeth was still alive) would see their sons put to death. But like their sons who would have eternal life (the latter being the source of it) they would also both one day live with them for all eternity.

We’ll read in a few verses that Mary remained with Elizabeth for about three months, which would have been near the time of John’s birth. It must have been an amazing time as these two expectant mothers shared their lives, their faith, and their great hope together. God provided for Mary the exact support that she needed in what was a very challenging time, a time when their society could have quickly turned on her and accused her of having illicit sexual relations. Instead, she knew the company of family who stood by her side and served as the perfect encouragement.

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