Hope in Uncertainty – Luke 1:39-49

God knows that situations I will face in life will be difficult and often mind-boggling.  I can see even from Mary’s life that I am not alone in my circumstances.  I do not have to be strong enough.  I do not have to be wise enough.  I do not need to figure it all out.  God gives me the help I need.

Mary responded to Gabriel’s announcement with faith – yet God knew that there would probably come a million questions and doubts once she didn’t have an angel standing in front of her. Who, in the entire world, could this young teenage girl go to?  Who could understand?

Trying to explain a private angelic visit and an immaculate pregnancy even to her parents and Joseph or anyone in the small community of Nazareth would not have been a wise move.
Who would believe her when she told them? What would she do?  That’s when she thought, “Elizabeth! Of course!”  Who in the entire world could possibly accept Mary’s crazy story better than Elizabeth – who had a crazy story of her own.
With the amazing news from the angel that her cousin Elizabeth had conceived and was already 6 months pregnant when she was way past childbearing age, Mary knew instinctively that was where she was to go.


  • Hope From People Who Have Shared A Similar Experience

 39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea,

 We see that Mary is the type of woman who puts her faith into action. She not only says, “Lord, I am your servant”, but she also “hurries” to see God at work in the life of her relative Elizabeth. The journey to Judea that Mary undertook was not a simple drive to the next town; it was a difficult journey that would have taken at least three days at that time. Mary did not let that stop her from going to Elizabeth, rejoicing with her, and praising the Lord for fulfilling his promises.  *Next time you give an excuse like, it’s kind of far, or it’s not really convenient to go to my small group just think of Mary’ journey and time commitment.

 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth.

 Mary needed somebody who knew about miracles.  How many times during her journey do you think Mary practiced how she would tell Elizabeth what had happened?  As Mary had rushed off to visit her relative, she must have been wondering whether the events of the last few days were real. Elizabeth’s greeting surely strengthened her faith. Mary’s pregnancy may have seemed impossible, but her wise relative believed in the Lord’s faithfulness and rejoiced in Mary’s condition.   Imagine what it meant to Mary when Elizabeth knew that her pregnancy was real and that she was carrying the Lord in her womb! Elizabeth affirmed that what Mary had experienced was true! Elizabeth saw with the eyes of faith – and affirmed the work of God in Mary.

It’s interesting to me, that while John prepared the way for Jesus, in a real sense, Elizabeth prepared the way for Mary. Elizabeth had her own crazy and miraculous pregnancy, and so wasn’t at all skeptical of Mary’s.

In her years of barrenness, she had already experienced the disgrace and rejection of the community that Mary was likely to face when word got out. But Elizabeth had paved the way.   All her life, God had prepared her, not only to be John’s mother, but to be the example of maturity and faithfulness that Mary needed for the enormous task ahead of her.

Elizabeth extended love, acceptance, hospitality, hope and faith to a young girl in need of every bit she could offer.

The truth is this, even though Mary had a very strange circumstance, God still provided someone who had a similar circumstance for her to relate to.  What you are going through right now, is NOT unique to you, I guarantee, there is someone or several who have already gone through the same situation and they are willing to hug you, listen to you and give you encouragement.  It happens all the time in small groups.  We think we are alone in our problems only to find that someone else has been there.  Our church has small groups for this reason:  to provide you someone who will say, “Lean on Me”. But you will never have that if you do not go.  You cannot build that in one or two visits.  It takes time to build trust and friendship and relationships that matter, but get started now!  Before you find yourself in need of some encouragement but you do not know where to turn.

41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

 Movement of a baby in its mother’s womb is certainly not abnormal in fact it’s probably one of the most exciting things to feel the baby moving before he or she is born. Almost every parent knows what it’s like to place his or her hand on the mother’s abdomen and feel the kicking and moving of the infant in the womb.   Sensing the baby’s movements is thrilling because that action indicates a new person is on the way.  But the movement of Elizabeth’s baby was far more significant than that of a normal fetus in a mother’s womb. That’s because this fetus was a prophet, and not just any prophet but the prophet who would be a forerunner for the Messiah.  His special leap was John’s first proclamation, a silent prophecy in his earliest role as prophet.  God in effect used the unborn John to make an enthusiastic prophecy of support for the coming Messiah.  God can even use the activity inside a mother’s womb to preview his plans.   Would Gabriel’s news to Mary come true? By this point in her visit to Elizabeth, an affirmative answer was coming into clearer focus.  First the testimony or encouragement of the six-month pregnant Elizabeth gave Mary confirmation of what she needed to hear.  Next came God’s miraculous evidence through the fetus leaping at the sound of Mary’s voice.  A coincidence?

  • Encouragement From People Who Care

42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”

There are two different words in this passage that are often translated “blessed”.

In verse 42, Elizabeth tells Mary:  “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!”  The word here is “eulogeo” – and you may be able to hear an English word in there: eulogy.  For us, a eulogy is a term usually reserved for funerals, but it is the time when we talk about the person’s life from as positive a perspective as possible. This isn’t the time to say, “And he never did pay me that 50 bucks he owed me, the cheapskate!” It may be true, but that’s just not what you say in a eulogy!   The word “eulogeo” is not reserved just for funerals — it means “to praise, or to speak well of, to honor.” So Elizabeth is saying, “You and that baby are just going to be the most honored people on the planet.”    In ancient Jewish culture a woman’s greatness was based on the greatness of the children she bore.  Elizabeth was telling Mary was the most blessed because she was going to give birth to the greatest child ever, the Lord Jesus.  That may not have been what this unwed pregnant teenager was feeling that moment especially after a 3 or 4 day trek through the hills of Judea.

Eventually Elizabeth’s words would come true, but they probably didn’t feel true for Mary at that moment.

The other word for blessed is used in verse 45, where Elizabeth says, 45 “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”  This time Luke doesn’t use “eulogeo”. He uses a word that has less to do with the words and opinions of others and more to do with being favored by God, and having the heart and attitude of one who knows that favor.

I think it indicates a lasting joy regardless of circumstances. Elizabeth is saying, “Mary, when you grab hold of God’s promises and believe them, there is a joy that is going to sustain you through this!”   Elizabeth was not speaking abstractly, but on the basis of her own experience. She’s saying, “Oh honey! I know how you may feel. I know there’s gonna’ be hard times. But when you trust Him, when you take God at His word, when you cast all your cares on Him, you’re gonna have JOY!  I’m not telling you tales, Mary, ‘cause I’ve experienced it. And you can take that to the bank.”

Again in our small groups and serving areas you will find encouragement that will be like food when you are starving, water when you are parched.   If you are not receiving encouragement then you need to go somewhere where you will.  Work may not provide it, your family will not provide it, but God has it for you. It could be a small group or a ministry.  Get plugged in somewhere and it will come.

We can see that Mary also had…

  • Comfort From A Relationship With God

 Elizabeth’s joyous affirming and encouragement to Mary released the song from Mary’s heart that has become known as “The Magnificat” from the opening words in Latin, “Magnificat anima mea Dominum,”—“My heart magnifies the Lord.”

This helps us to understand what kind of person Mary was. She truly was a special person who had a relationship with God.  She loved the Lord for he had done great things for her. She understood that she did not deserve this special privilege of being the mother of the Messiah, for she said, “He has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.” (Luke 1:48)

46 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.

She says, “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior.   She had been faithful in her obedience and love for God, but still she needed a Savior. The Roman Catholic Church talks about the “immaculate conception,” and by that they are not talking about the birth of Christ, but rather the birth of Mary. They believe that she was born without original sin. They also believe that she lived a sinless life. And while we respect our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters, we believe that Mary needed a Savior like the rest of us. She did not say, “My spirit rejoices in God the Savior;” she said, “God, my Savior.” Sinless people do not need a Savior. And in spite of the fact she was just like the rest of us, God not only became her Savior, but bestowed on her the unparalleled privilege of being the one who would bring God’s Son into the world. He would not just be her Savior, but the Savior of the world. He would bring forgiveness to the human family.

Her song continues from verse 46-55 and is made up of images and references to Scriptures from Genesis, from Job, from the Psalms, and from Isaiah and highlights how steeped her thinking was in the Word of God.   Mary’s psalm of praise reveals a repeated use of the terminology and theology of the Old Testament. Virtually every commentator agrees that Mary’s song is dripping with Old Testament allusions and references.  She is quite the theologian. She really knows her scriptures.  Some may question how a simple peasant-girl may have such a grasp of the Old Testament. All Israelites from their childhood days knew by heart much of the Old Testament.  Mary was steeped in the poetical literature of her nation, and accordingly her song also bears the unmistakable signs of it.

Now the Pharisees and Sadducees were also steeped in the study of the Scriptures but Jesus later pointed out that though they studied the Scriptures that spoke about Him they refused to come to Him – instead they rejected and killed the very One they claimed to love and follow.  It reminds us that it is altogether possible to study the scriptures purely as an academic exercise as one might any other book of literature or history and completely miss the heart of the message.

Mary studied the Scriptures as a lover would passionately memorize and consume the letters from her beloved – they not only stimulated her thinking but also transformed her heart and mind and soul.   She had comfort from her relationship with God.

This song of Mary celebrates her relationship with God – it is worship.  Worship takes the attention off of us and focuses it on God – on His might, on His power, on His mercy and grace. And that environment is perfect for strengthening and deepening faith – because faith keeps its vision focused on the word and promises of God and not on the surrounding or prevailing circumstances.

We see in verse 56 that Mary stayed with Elizabeth for 3 months.  Because travel was not easy, long visits were customary. Mary must have been a great help to Elizabeth, who was experiencing the discomforts of being pregnant in her old age. In addition, Elizabeth certainly helped Mary. During these three months, Mary surely discussed with Elizabeth how to handle what would be an extremely difficult social predicament. She would have to return home and explain her pregnancy to her family and her fiancé. Hopefully, when Mary went back to her own home, three months pregnant, she was even more strengthened in her faith by Elizabeth’s faith ready to face all that the future would hold.



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About dkoop

Lead Pastor of Upwards Church: Leander & Jarrell, TX
This entry was posted in Hope for the Holidays - Luke 1-2 and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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