The Affirmation of the Promise
Luke 1: 39-56

Introduction:

How do you handle new directions that come into your life, either from God or elsewhere? You have this feeling that God is wanting you to do something but you are not really sure. Then along comes confirmation, IT IS FROM GOD. Did this create joy? How did you feel? Just because it is from God, we are not always happy about what He wants us to do.

Mary Visits Elizabeth

39 Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, 40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”

The Song of Mary

46 And Mary said:

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name.
50 And His mercy is on those who fear Him
From generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
52 He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.
54 He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of His mercy,
55 As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and to his seed forever.”

56 And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her house.

Key Verses of the Affirmation of the Promise

46 And Mary said:

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
 

Lessons for Living Life:

(1)      The moment Mary arrived at the home of Elizabeth, she received confirmation of God’s Promise, and

(2)      Experience the example from Mary and Elizabeth of how they handled the joyful news of the Promise of God.

Question: Have you ever received an answer from God or God was leading you to do a specific work for Him? But you were not quite sure. You may have wondered is this me or is this God speaking to me? It sure would be good if I knew for sure. THEN, you received confirmation that it was God leading you? How did that make you feel?

39 Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah,

Question: Why do you think Mary rushed out of Nazareth and headed to Judah?

Did she run because of what she thought people would think?

Did she run because of the trouble she may be in with Joseph?

Did she run because of her reputation would soon be mud?

Or do you think Mary was following instructions of Gabriel?

 

I believe this was Mary’s feelings.

Instinctively, Mary knew the affirmation was in the house of Elizabeth. Mary left with haste to go to Judea.

Why was an Affirmation of the Promise Needed?

The opening paragraph of our Scripture pulls together two of the key female characters of Luke 1: Mary and Elizabeth. Both conceived children miraculously. Elizabeth conceived in her old age; Mary conceived by means of the Holy Spirit.

Verse 39 informs us that Mary journeyed directly to the Judean highlands. This refers to the area around Jerusalem.

Luke notes that this journey was taken in haste. There is no indication that Mary was following instructions from the angel, but nevertheless she traveled to visit her relative Elizabeth. Perhaps she took this journey because of the angel’s revelation to her of Elizabeth’s miraculous pregnancy. Whatever the reason, these two mothers of two central characters in God’s mission shared a brief scene together as Luke’s story of Jesus unfolded.

In verse 40, Mary arrives at the home of Zacharias. She entered and greeted Elizabeth. Mary’s journey and conversation with Elizabeth set the stage for a pause in Luke’s story where the words of Elizabeth and then Mary summarized the significance of God’s actions and mission in the world.

Both women pronounced key theological and spiritual truths that can guide us in understanding the life of faith and God’s mission to extend divine blessings to those desperate for what only God can do.

Verses 41-45 describe Elizabeth’s response to Mary’s arrival. Verse 41 reports that the unborn baby John jumped inside Elizabeth’s womb at the sound of Mary’s greeting. John was already responding to Jesus through the Spirit. John had already been filled with the Spirit in the womb.

(Verse 15: “For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.”)

Here, the Holy Spirit filled Elizabeth and empowered her to speak a blessing over Mary and the unborn Jesus.

The Holy Spirit’s Role

The Holy Spirit is a significant figure in Luke’s Gospel. In the early stages of Luke, key characters received the Holy Spirit to empower their actions. Mary received the Spirit to conceive Jesus.

(Verse 25: “35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” 

Elizabeth spoke by means of the Holy Spirit.

(Verse 41: 41 And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.)

Zechariah prophesied over John’s birth through the Spirit’s filling him.

(Verse 67: 67 Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying:)

And Simeon had a message from the Holy Spirit for the infant Jesus.

(Verse 2:25-27: 25 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law,)

 

The Holy Spirit is the driver and interpreter of God’s mission. These individual outpouring of the Spirit reached their climax in Luke’s second biblical book, Acts of the Apostles, when God poured out the Spirit on all believers at Pentecost.

(Acts 2: 2 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. . . 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.”)

In fulfillment of Jesus’ promise in Acts 1:8.

(Acts 1:8, 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me[a] in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”)

The lesson is clear. The Holy Spirit drives God’s mission forward. Here in the early sections of Luke, the Holy Spirit gives key characters the words to interpret the significance of the events and actions that occur around them.

Verses 42-45 include Elizabeth’s Spirit-inspired words.

(Verses 42-45, “42 Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”)

The Spirit enabled Elizabeth to recognize and describe the meaning of John’s leaping in her womb at the presence of Mary.

First, in verse 42, she announces God’s blessing on Mary and on the unborn Jesus. Mary was not merely blessed; she was blessed above all other women.

This was the work of God. God is the one who blesses. It was not because of any innate superiority of Mary; it was because of the Baby she was carrying. This is the official indication in Luke’s Gospel that Mary was indeed pregnant.

Where else in the Bible do we see God using the Holy Spirit to do His mighty work?

(Genesis 1: 1-3, “1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.)

Question: In this study of Mary, and Mary being selected to be the mother of Jesus, what does this tell us about God’s way and how God uses people of little worldly status to accomplish His purpose?

(Isaiah 55:8-9

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.)

Where does God go to select His people?
What were the occupation of the Disciples?

·       Peter: fisherman on the Sea of Galilee

·       John: fisherman

·       James: fisherman

·       Andrew: fisherman

·       Matthew: tax collector

How does this connect to Abraham?

Question: How does this story connect with God calling Abraham?

Genesis 12:1-3 Promises to Abram

12 Now the Lord had said to Abram:

“Get out of your country,
From your family
And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you.
2 I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Luke connects the actions of Mary and Elizabeth’s day regarding the birth of Jesus with God’s powerful acts in the Old Testament. The birth of Jesus is a continuation of God’s work to bring salvation to a lost humanity and a broken creation that began with God’s calling of Abraham.

Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth receive Affirmation

This is a beautiful story. If this was the end of the lesson, this would be a great lesson. But it doesn’t stop with Mary, Elizabeth, Jesus, John and Zacharias. This is just a chapter in the great creation by God.

Question: The next chapter is what is God doing in our lives? What is he asking you and me to do?

Question: Was there ever a time in your life when you received (or ever thought you received) a calling from God?

Did you embrace it with joy?

Did you have doubts that the call was from God?

Did you embrace, follow through or pass it by?

My belief: God calls each of us daily, every day. It may be

·       to give an encouraging word to a neighbor,

·       pick up the phone to say “I was thinking of you and I wanted to give you a call to just say hello,” or

·       Invite someone to join you in church or Sunday school

·       Tell your kids and grandkids that you are proud of them.