The Blessings of Believing
The songs of Christmas, Part 6
Today’s Scripture reading: Luke 1:39-45
In Luke 1:39-56, the stories of Elizabeth’s and Mary’s miraculous conceptions intertwine when the two women meet. They are relatives, it turns out, and what could be more natural than family members sharing good news?
It also helps that Elizabeth lives in the Judean hills, a far piece from little Nazareth; and young Mary no doubt needs a respite from the gossip about her pregnancy.
At their first encounter, Elizabeth says four things worth pondering:
First, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear” — literally, “the fruit of your womb.”
This line of Scripture makes an appearance in the Catholic rosary as the second line of the “Hail, Mary” prayer. But if Catholics pay too much attention to Mary, Protestants pay too little. Mary was uniquely blessed among women because she gave birth to the Son of God.
The Lord will bless us if we believe His promises to us, just as He blessed Mary and Elizabeth.
We do a disservice to God’s Word when we fail to remember Mary with honor for her obedience to God, which played an important role in our own salvation. Had Jesus never been born, after all, He could not have possibly died on the cross for our sins or risen from the dead for our eternal life.
Second, “But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”
This is an astonishing question at two levels: (a) in traditional cultures, the young pay homage to the old, not the reverse, as is the case here; and (b) Elizabeth calls Mary “the mother of my Lord.” This is the first time — but certainly not the last — in which Jesus Christ’s coming into the world reverses traditional cultural patterns of relationships.
Third, “As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.”
That baby is John the Baptist, of course. This is the first time — but certainly not the last — that John will witness to the messiahship of his kinsman, Jesus.
And fourth, “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
In my opinion, this is the key statement. None of us will ever be become the mother of the Son of God, like Mary. Elizabeth will never announce her favor at meeting us. John the Baptist will not leap for joy at our arrival.
But the Lord will bless us if we believe His promises to us, just as He blessed Mary and Elizabeth.