39At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!"
46And Mary said: "My soul glorifies the Lord 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. 50His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. 51He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 54He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers."
56Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home. (NIV)
Main Ideas to Note
1. John the Baptizer’s aim – even before being born – was to point to Jesus (vv. 41, 44).
- he confirms this as an adult (Jn 1:19-32, 3:27-30).
- serves as a reminder to us that no man or angel - no matter how important their role is in God’s work - can compare to Jesus (Heb 1:1-12; 3:1-6). He is very God (Col 1:15-20; Heb 1:3) and very man (1 Ti 2:5-6) – and thus, the only mediator between God and humanity.
2. The LORD shows favour to all who come to him with no sense of self-sufficiency, but complete and utter dependence (vv. 48,50,52).
- That God “opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” is a theme constantly found in Scripture (Prov 3:34; James 4:6; 1 Pet 5:5)
- Humility is a necessary component of true repentance and faith (tax collector – Lk 18:9-14)
- There is a need for Christians to be continually humbled if they are to know the LORD more – sometimes God achieves such “humbling” through trials (2 Co 1:8-11) and warnings (Rev 3:14-22).
3. All glory and praise goes to God alone for everything good in our lives (v. 46, James 1:17).
- “From now on, all generations will call me blessed” (v. 48) – what does this mean? “Mary will be honoured….not because she is special, but because she is the model and representative of what it is to experience God’s grace and mercy.” (Bock, NIV Application Commentary: Luke, 1996, p. 66, italics mine)
4. The LORD will bring to ruin those who do not feel any need of Him (vv. 51, 52, 53)
- Much is said throughout the Bible of how the LORD hates pride (Pr 16:5, 18; 8:13; Isa 2:11; Jer 49:16; 1 Pet 5:5)
- “proud in their inmost thoughts” (v. 51) – the LORD can see all, and knows all that’s in a person’s heart (1 Sam 16:7; Heb 4:12-13)
a. Human beings are fully formed even within the womb (vv. 41,44).
b. There is great joy to be found in Christian fellowship (vv. 39-45, 56).
c. There is great blessedness in taking God at His word (v. 45 – compare to v. 38, contrast with vv. 18-20!).
d. From Elizabeth, we learn the importance of being content in the position that God has placed us, and rejoice with others in their joy (vv. 42-45; Rom 12:9-16).
I. What can we learn from the way Mary and Elizabeth respond to the work of God in their lives?
II. What are the dangers of accumulating more wealth and power?
III. What are the ways in which we can cultivate the grace of humility?