Mary Visits Elizabeth (ch. 1:39 - 45)
Luke tells us that at some point after the angel visited Mary she
went to see Elizabeth. When Mary met Elizabeth her baby "leaped"
within her and she was filled with the Holy Spirit. The leaping of John
within Elizabeth was due to the fact that he had the Holy Spirit living in
him, even while he was in his motherís womb. Thus the Holy Spirit in
John recognized Mary as she came to visit. This also caused Elizabeth to
be filled with the Holy Spirit. This must have been some event. Elizabeth
was filled with the Spirit and so was John, both at the same time,
two people filled with the Spirit, yet in one body.
Luke tells us that the Holy Spirit filled the baby inside Elizabethís
womb, a baby with no intellectual capabilities to understand these things.
You might therefore conclude that a person does not have to have
intellectual capabilities to experience the Holy Spirit. A child can
experience the Holy Spirit, as well as one who may be mentally challenged.
This gives hope to all people.
When one is filled with the Spirit, or when the Holy Spirit comes
upon someone, usually something happens. It is not a static situation.
What happens in this case is a prophetic word from Elizabeth, which
includes a word of knowledge.
Prophetically Elizabeth says in a loud voice, "blessed are you
among women, (May is very special), and blessed is the child you will bearÖ"
How did Elizabeth know about the child Mary should give birth too?
Obviously this was a word of knowledge,
Elizabeth asks a question that she doesnít expect an answer to.
She asks "why should the mother of my Lord" come to visit her?
It is interesting to note the way in which Elizabeth uses the word Lord. A
Jew using "Lord" would mean "God". She is actually
calling the baby inside of Mary God. Elizabeth is the first person to call
Jesus Lord, to recognize Him as God.
Elizabeth continues with this prophecy by saying, "blessed is
she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be
accomplished". We should acknowledge that unlike Zechariah, Mary
believed the words of the angel. She believed God would do as the angel
told her. Because of this faith, Mary was considered blessed.
Maryís Song (ch. 1:46 - 56)
Mary responds to what Elizabeth has just said with words of her own.
Some suggest that Maryís words were just as much prophetic and inspired
as Elizabethís yet without any foretelling of the future. Others say
that Maryís words are merely a product of her own thinking, though it is
very much heart felt. I would lean towards the thinking that Maryís
words were influenced by the Holy Spirit, and thus were prophetic The Holy
Spirit was clearly evident in the room when these two ladies met, so it is
not hard to believe that He inspired both ladies at that moment.
In verse 46 Mary says, "my soul does glorify the Lord and my
spirit does rejoice in God my Saviour". One thing we notice right
away are the words soul and spirit. It seems to appear that in Maryís
mind, because she differentiates between soul and spirit, that these are 2
separated parts of a person.
There is a couple different ways of looking at this matter. Some
believe that we as humans consist of 3 parts; body, soul, and spirit.
These people believe that there is a clear distinction between soul and
spirit that is evident in what Mary says, because she uses both in the
same sentence, suggesting that they are both different and distinct from
each other. The soul would be made up of our will, our intellect, and
emotions, and that which makes us living beings. The spirit would be that
part of us that is united with God. One who is not a Christian has a
spirit that is non functioning. Once the Holy Spirit comes to live within
us, our spirit is joined to His spirit and is brought to life. This is
what is called being born again of the Holy Spirit.
Others do not see a distinction between soul and spirit. They
believe the 2 are the same. They acknowledge the fact that both words are
used in the Bible, making them appear to be different. Yet they say there
are other words that can be found along with these words and if you
include them, we could easily be made up of more than 3 parts. Jesus tells
us to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind. (Mat. 22:37) Here we
see the word heart, along with soul and mind. Jesus separates the soul
from the heart and mind. They are 3 distinct parts of a person, that doesnít
include either the body or spirit. With this train of thought, weíd be
made up of 5 parts, body, spirit, soul, mind and heart. Those who believe
in the triune nature of man believe that the heart and mind are part of
the soul, not separate from the soul, as Jesus seems to say. Thus some
conclude that we donít really know the make up of man with good clarity.
Whatever the case, Maryís soul and spirit glorifies God. To
glorify God means to express exalted words towards Him, speaking of such
things as His greatness and His divine nature. Mary is saying that from
the core of who she is, she is exalting her God in the best way she can.
You note that she addresses God as "her Saviour". She is
thinking in terms of God the Messiah. The God of all there is, is the
Great Saviour, yet this Saviour will soon been seen in human form. The
amazing thing is that human form is now within Mary as she speaks these
Mary continues by saying that "He has been mindful of the
humble estate of His servant". Mary uses the words "humble and
servant" when describing herself in relation to God. She is correct
and well knows that a human being can only be seen in humble servanthood
when compared to God. We are very much insignificant when compared to God,
yet in Godís eyes, He sees us as really important.
Still in verse 47 Mary says, "from now on all generations will
call me blessed". What was Mary saying here? Was she espousing
Catholic doctrine? Was she saying that she has been elevated on a much
higher level than any other human being, to be called the mother of God? I
donít think she had any such thought in mind. She has just said that she
was a humble servant. Mary did not see herself as an exalted person. She
viewed herself as one very blessed person because God had chosen her for a
special task. But a blessed person does not suggest in the least that she
has been exalted to a level in heaven that is above any other person.
There is no hint in this blessedness that we are to pray to Mary, have
Mary pray to God for us, or any other like teaching.
Mary is special, but only because she gave birth to Jesus. She, like
us need to find salvation in Jesus. Her blessedness simply lies in the
fact of her birth, not in who she is.
Verse 49 confirms what I have just said. Mary says". "for
the Mighty One has done great things for me". Mary has been blessed
by God. He has done something special for her. He has not elevated her to
an exalted position in the universal scheme of things. There is a
difference in having something given to you, or done to you, and making
you something different than what you are. Mary was still Mary, but a very
Mary continues in verse 50 by saying that Godís "mercy
extends to those who fear Him" no matter what generation you live in.
Really, when you think of it, fearing God is the first step towards
salvation. When you see who God is, and when you hear the message of
Jesus, in order to respond positively, you have a serious respect for Him
and His message. Without this respect, you will not respond in a positive
Verse 51 continues on with the idea of fearing God. He is to be
feared because "He has performed mighty deeds with his arms; He has
scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts". Does God
have a literal arm? I donít think so. I think we can take these words
figuratively. God is a spirit according to Jesus. (John 4:24)
Mary says that God has done mighty deeds. I am sure Mary thinks that
what has happened to her is a mighty deed, but in the context of the
sentence the mighty deeds are performed against those who are proud in
their thoughts. This tells us that pride is a matter of the mind and
heart. Pride will demonstrate itself in outward behaviour, but before the
outward action can be seen, pride is in the heart. God sees the heart and
can extend his mighty hand towards those who are proud and as yet have not
acted on this proudness.
Verse 52 says that God Ďhas brought down rulers from their
thrones". This tells us that God is involved in the affairs of men
and nations. He has not stepped back, as the Deists say, and let us run
things as we please. You might not be able to see the hand of God bringing
down nations, but He has, and He will, and He could easily be doing so
At the same time that God is dethroning leaders, He is also raising
up humble people. Humility is a foundation stone for anyone who feels
called to the Lordís service. To be effective for Jesus, you must be
humble. To the degree that humility is found in your life is the degree of
effectiveness you will be for Jesus. One of the main problems in todayís
church is pride and arrogance in leadership. This is seen in the self
centered way of leading
In verse 53 Mary says, "he has filled the hungry with good
things but has sent the rich away empty". We should note that this is
not a futuristic statement that Mary makes here. Her understanding is that
God has and now is helping the hungry and ignoring the rich. Does this
mean that God is against rich people? Not really. He does not like the
arrogance and pride that is so often seen in both rich people and rich
nations. If riches are not properly balanced with humility, whether in a
person or a nation, you can bet that God will send both away empty. This
tells me that both rich people and nations who exalt riches over the Lord
will fall. Our western society may be in the process of this fall as I
type these words.
Verse 54 sees the conclusion of Maryís words of
exaltation. She says that He remembered Israel and has been merciful
to them. Israel of old was constantly coming back to their God and
wandering off again. They could not seem to stay on the straight and
narrow, but even though they forsook their God, He was merciful to them by
bringing the Messiah to them. He had promised this to the fatherís of
Israel, and He was to keep His promise as evidence in Maryís pregnancy.
Yet the sad things is that Israel rejected Godís mercy because it came
to them in a way that they refused to recognize.
The Birth Of John The Baptist (ch.1:57 -
Luke now speaks of the birth of Elizabethís baby. All her friends
and relatives heard that she had finally given birth and were celebrating
the goodness of God.
Verse 59 tells us that Zechariah and Elizabeth took their son to be
circumcised on the eight days as was the Jewish custom. While at the
circumcision those in charge wanted to name the baby after his father but
Elizabeth knew that this should not be. The angel told Zechariah that his
name was to be John and so she made sure that this was going to be the
case. Zechariah was still not able to speak so this is why Elizabeth had
to step forward and make sure the John was to be the name of her son.
The people around were amazed that Elizabeth wanted his name to be
John, so they turned to Zechariah to ask him. Unable to speak, he had to
write out the name for them. He wrote, "his name is John". Then
in verse 64 we read that "immediately his mouth was opened and his
tongue was loosed, and he began to speak, praising God". The reason
why he was struck dumb by the angel was because of his unbelief, and the
reason why he could now speak was because of his words of faith. The
positive confession that agreed with the word of the Lord resulted in his
ability to speak once again. The first words he spoke was praise to God.
Everyone was "filled with awe" because of these events and
the story of Zechariah being able to speak, and the birth of John spread
quickly throughout the hill country of Judea where they lived. I am sure
that many people kept their eyes on John as he grew older.
The section ends with the questions that everyone had concerning
John. They asked, "What then is this child going to be? They just
knew that this was one special child. They also saw that the "Lordís
hand was with him". I am sure that these people saw the hand of the
Lord in Johnís birth, but also in his life.
Zechariahís Song (ch. 1:67 - 80)
Verse 67 says that Zechariah "was filled with the Holy Spirit
and prophesied". As I always say, if someone is truly filled with the
Holy Spirit something dramatic will happen. In this case Zechariah
We need to understand how the N. T. uses the term "filled with
the Spirit". For the most part when these words are used it is in
relation to an individual experience when the Spirit of God comes down and
fills a person. It is not used, for the most part, in a continuos sense of
constantly, and at all times being filled with the Spirit. Pentecostals
today tend to use this phrase in the latter sense. They ask, "are you
filled with the Spirit"? We have the Holy Spirit living within us if
we are truly born again. Then, from time to time, the Holy Spirit also
comes on us and we are "filled". In these times He comes on us
for a particular reason, and the reason isnít simply to feel good. The
reason in Zechariahís instance was to prophecy.
He begins his prophecy by giving praise to the Lord God of Israel
"because He has come and has redeemed His people". Note the
present tense. Zechariah does not say that God "will redeem
Israel", but has already come and redeemed Israel. The actual act of
redemption has not yet taken place, of which Zechariah really probably
doesnít understand. Yet since God has spoken the word about the soon to
come Messiah, Zechariah knows that redemption is as good as done. He has
now learned to trust the God he serves.
"He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of
His servant David". The word "horn" refers to a
"horn" on an animal. Most commentators suggest the use of this
word in the singular gives a picture of strength. One strong horn that
will fight off the enemy and bring salvation to Godís lost people. This
horn is clearly raised in the house of David, a true Jew, the Messiah
Verse 71 speaks of "salvation from our enemies, and all who
hate us". Who are these enemies that this prophecy is speaking of? I
think that Zechariah might interpret these enemies to be the Roman
government that has Israel in bondage. The Jews were looking for a Messiah
to deliver them from Rome and bring them into their own land with their
own government. Could this be what Zechariah thought as he uttered these
words? Some say that is exactly what the prophecy is all about. Yet these
people are still looking for its fulfillment. In 70 AD Israel was
destroyed, not delivered. These people may suggest that 1948 was the
fulfillment of this prophecy.
Yet could the enemies that are spoken of here be satan and his
angelic host of helpers? We have 1 of 3 choices to make concerning this.
Either we view this prophecy as purely political, or purely spiritual, or
a combination of both.
Personally, I at least interpret it as spiritual. If indeed
redemption has come, as we stated above, that would suggest a spiritual
redemption because that was accomplished in a few short years. Political
redemption for Israel has not yet come. It has come to a degree, yet the
enemies of Israel still abound.
This prophecy cannot be purely political. It is first spiritual. It
may have a secondary political inference that still needs fulfillment.
The result of this redemption and salvation from Israelís enemies
would be that they could then worship their God "without fear",
in righteousness and holiness. Clearly, if Israel were a self sustaining
country without any enemies, then it is possible that they could worship
without fear. Yet political freedom alone cannot bring forth true worship.
True worship is a matter from within a person, a spiritual matter Israel
needed to be free spiritually before they could worship properly. Remember
the words of Jesus in John 4 when He says that God is a spirit and those
who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth. This is the kind of
worship that Israel needed to be involved in and this was the kind of
worship that God wanted from them. Thus what the Holy Spirit was saying
through Zechariah concerned spiritual redemption.
In verse 76 the prophecy switches focal points, from Israel to John.
Zechariah says, "you Ö will be called a prophet of the Most High
for you will go before the Lord to prepare the way for Him, to give His
people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their
sins". We can definitely see the spiritual tone of the prophecy at
this point. John will prepare Israel by preaching to them that there is
forgiveness for their sins. Thus the prophecy is first of all spiritual in
Verse 78 speaks of the "rising sun" coming from Heaven and
shining on those living "in darkness and the shadow of death".
Israel was living in darkness. They were at the brink of death, and within
40 years they did die as a nation. But the sun that was to shine on these
people was the Son from Heaven". They were also on the brink of death
because death is a result of sin.
Political freedom pales in significance when compared to spiritual
freedom in the eyes of God. In modern western Christianity we sometimes
get faith and politics confused and mixed up. We like to combine the two,
and there is a place for that. But first and foremost the Kingdom of God
is more important than the kingdoms of men. Jesus preached a spiritual
salvation. Paul, Peter, and the rest followed in His footsteps. Paul did
not become a politician in order to promote the Kingdom of God. He became
a preacher of the gospel. Salvation comes only through Jesus and the
preached word. It does not come through any kind of government
legislation. I do not have a problem with Christians being involved in
politics, as long as they realize that their first allegiance is to Jesus
and His Kingdom.
The prophecy ends with the words, "to bring our feet into the
path of peace". Once again, we must first interpret these words in a
spiritual sense. Forgiveness of sins brings peace with God. We are no
longer enemies of God but are children of God. This new relationship
Chapter 1 ends with these words. "The child grew and became
strong in spirit; and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to
Israel". This is all we know about Johnís youth and adulthood until
he begins his ministry. His parents could not have lived long enough to
see his ministry. You might wonder how Zechariah and Elizabeth felt, and
what they thought upon their death bed concerning their son.
John lived in the desert. Was he a hermit? We donít know. How he
supported himself is not known either. But the desert to him was most
likely the place where he grew "in spirit" and was prepared for
his short ministry to prepare Israel for their redeemer. Sad to say, most
of them ignored both John and Jesus.
Next Section - Chapter 2
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Introduction and Ch. 1:1 - 38