March 26, 2017 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series:
Topic: Incarnation Verse: Luke 1:39–1:45
Theme: God is faithful to provide encouragements as we respond to His truth.
I. The Desire for a Confidant – Luke 1:39-40
A. THE EAGERNESS FOR FELLOWSHIP – Luke 1:39
- In our previous text, Gabriel – the angel sent from the Lord to inform Mary of God’s intentions re: the birth of the Messiah – “departed from her.”
- This leaves her to ponder what she ought to do – to whom could she turn for counsel and comfort given the sacrifices that she was about to make of time, physical trauma, and reputation.
- God, in His mercy, had informed her that there was another person who had likewise experienced a similar interruption of life in order to serve God – Elizabeth.
- Interestingly, the Scriptures teach us that we cannot experience testing or temptation that is not “common to man” – cp. 1 Corinthians 10:13
- Mary realizes that she needed fellowship – to be able to turn to someone who could possibly understand her questions, concerns, fears and to help hold her accountable for her thoughts.
- As a result, we are told that “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.”
- What strikes us here is the phrase “in a hurry” [μετά σπουδή] – “with diligence” – a reference to eagerness, zeal, or haste.
- This suggests that she felt that she had no one else to whom to turn and needed to get there, feeling that this must have been the reason that Gabriel had so carefully informed her about Elizabeth’s pregnancy as a sign.
- There has never been a more unique trial in any person’s life – man or woman – than what Mary was facing, yet God had someone to whom she was able to turn.
- Elizabeth was older and wiser
- Elizabeth had the benefit of a man’s understanding and leadership in Zacharias
- Elizabeth was herself the servant of God through a miraculous pregnancy
- Here you find the mother of the Messiah putting into practice the counsel from Scriptures to seek guidance from others – cp. Proverbs 28:26.
B. THE ENCOURAGEMENT OF FELLOWSHIP - Luke 1:40
- What she finds when she arrives at Elizabeth’s home is the welcome that she would expect from a godly couple.
- She comes there with the most enriching and joyful of receptions as there was instant celebration of God’s grace – not only in Mary’s life, but also in Elizabeth’s.
- Others would have undoubtedly reacted to Mary’s claims of conception at the power of God’s Spirit without any human factor with cynicism, condemnation and ridicule.
- We are informed that when Joseph was informed of Mary’s pregnancy – probably after she returned from her visit with Elizabeth – that he didn’t believe her.
- After having been absent from Nazareth for three months and returning with a “story” of miraculous conception, what was Joseph to think? – cp. v. 56
- We are told that Joseph, who thought he knew Mary, decided to divorce her (break the engagement) and not to expose her – cp. Matthew 1:18-19.
- But Elizabeth took no hesitations and immediately realized what had happened to Mary.
- They undoubtedly found their soul’s exuberant as they both talked of and listened to the accounts of God’s goodness and grace through their pregnancies.
- This rich fellowship bolstered their hearts and gave them the courage to face the challenges that lay before them.
II. The Delight in Consecration – Luke 1:41-42a
A. THE VERIFICATION BY THE PROPHET – Luke 1:41a
- The movement in this account is swift – notice the terms used: “at this time” … “went in a hurry” … “entered” … “when Elizabeth heard …”
- It is interesting that the very first thing that happened was that the Elizabeth’s baby – one whose name was to be called “John” was already filled with the Holy Spirit – cp. Luke 1:15
- Responded first – “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb.”
- Interestingly, it is descriptive of the doctrine of illumination by the Holy Spirit – that the only way one can understand the true identity of Jesus Christ is through the agency of the Holy Spirit showing us – Matthew 16:16-17; 1 Corinthians 2:14.
- This demonstrates that it is by grace alone that a person begins to comprehend the Gospel – not through education, argumentation, opportunity, etc …
- Thus, the first act – and one that would characterize all future acts – of this greatest of all of the prophets, was to announce the presence of the Son of God – the Messiah – cp. John 3:28-30.
B. THE VITALITY OF THE PROPHECY – Luke 1:41b-42a
- We are told that after John had verified the arrival of the Son of God, his own mother was the first to confess Jesus as the Messiah – “… and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.”
- Before the beginning of the Church at Pentecost in Acts 2, the ministry of the Holy Spirit was very different than today – He would temporarily “fill” people for the purpose of enabling them to accomplish a specific task.
- In this case, He filled Elizabeth to enable her to prophesy.
- We are told that having remained quiet, “keeping herself in seclusion for five months,” she now cannot contain herself “… and she cried out with a loud voice …”
- She “cried out” [ἀναφωνέω] – a term that speaks of authoritative declaration – shouting out the message – cp. John 1:15
- She used a “loud voice” [κραυγῇ μεγάλῃ] – literally “with a great shout”
- Her seclusion and reservation was over – having the testimony of her baby and the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth knows exactly who the baby is in Mary’s womb.
- This also indicates that the conception had already occurred, given that the Scriptures do not record for us the specific moment of conception, it was most likely immediately upon Gabriel’s announcement and departure.
III. The Declaration of Confirmation – Luke 1:42b-45
A. THE CELEBRATION OF FRUITFULNESS – Luke 1:42b
- Elizabeth’s words are sourced in the revelation that is being provided her by the Holy Spirit – words that are true and powerful.
- She begins by praising the Lord for the work of grace that He performed in blessing Mary – “Blessed are you among women …” – a description of the unique role that Mary was given, having been chosen by God.
- The word “blessed” [εὐλογέω] – is where we get the word “Eulogy” and means to commend or to speak well of someone, to praise or extol them.
- This phrase “among women” is a “Hebrew superlative” indicating the Mary is the most blessed of all women – not because of anything innate, but because she will be giving birth to the greatest child of all time.
- The greatest privilege that any woman could ever have would be to give birth to the greatest child – the Messiah – “… and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”
- This fruitfulness that is being celebrated is the birth of the Lord of Glory and the King of Kings; the Savior who is Christ the Lord, the Son of the Most High!
B. THE CONFESSION OF FAITH – Luke 1:43
- She continues to personally proclaim her own unworthiness of the privilege of this child – even in a fetal stage of humanity – was her Lord.
- She says: “And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me?”
- She knew, through the enlightenment by the Holy Spirit, that Mary was expecting this holy child of whom she was not worthy.
- This is a confession of faith in the honor, glory, and power that belonged to the Messiah.
- Elizabeth’s humble attitude is reflected in the words of her own son years later where he declares his unworthiness to even tie Jesus’ shoe – cp. John 1:24-30.
C. THE CONFIRMATION OF FULFILLMENT – Luke 1:44
- Elizabeth then provides the evidence whereby she is able to testify that Mary is the mother of the Messiah – the tangible proof.
- She states: “For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy.”
- Although it is not uncommon for babies to move in what seems like “leaping” actions, what John did was most unusual.
- Her realization of what significance John’s “hyperactivity” meant was provided her by means of the Holy Spirit that had immediately filled her after John had leapt.
D. THE COMMENDATION FOR FAITHFULNESS – Luke 1:45
- Finally, Elizabeth makes comment re: the way by which Mary had exercised faith to believe the message of Gabriel – “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.”
- She declares this blessing because Mary had heard the Word of God and had believed – the obedience to which is the path to God’s blessing in all our lives.
- Mary’s own willingness to go through everything was because she considered God faithful and would remain faithful to Him and to His Word.
- Mary would need additional encouragement as she faced not only the controversy that her pregnancy would create when she returned home to Nazareth, but the potential reaction by Joseph – a well-founded concern as he initially responded as she feared.
- Yet God continued to prove Himself faithful – as He always does!