Summary: Working through the Gospel of Luke using consecutive expository preaching. Luke 1:39-45 This sermon fell on the Third Sunday of Advent
Sermon: “Mary and Elizabeth”
A sermon for December 13, 2020
Pastor John Bright
Luke 1 “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.”
This is a story from the days before cell phones – “I needed to call home, and the only pay phone I could find was in use. So, I stood to the side and politely waited until it was free, thinking it would only be a couple of minutes. Five minutes went by, and still the man was on the phone. He was just standing there, not saying a word. Two more minutes went by, and he still wasn't talking.
Finally, I tapped him on the shoulder and asked if I could use the phone. I really wouldn't be long, but needed to make an important call.
"Hold your horses," he responded, covering the receiver. "I'm talking to my wife."
Ok – for the folks who know nothing about pay phones:
Q: Is Google male or female?
A: Female, because it doesn't let you finish a sentence before making a suggestion.
Now that I have made all the ladies mad for suggesting you like to talk – let me be really clear about what I’m trying to say today – we all, everyone of us, not matter your age or gender – we all want to feel like we have been heard… that whoever we talk to, actually listens. Would you agree?
Mary needed someone to listen to her – v.39-40
“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.”
It’s not certain where Zacharias and Elizabeth lived, but tradition holds it was about 5 miles from Jerusalem, making Mary’s trip about 100 miles. When I leave the parsonage in Swansonville and travel to Clarksville, its about 70 miles and takes me and hour and fifteen minutes to drive. Back then, Mary would have traveled four days to reach her destination.
We can easily believe today that she had been there before. In that day, you didn’t call or send an email that you were coming – you just showed up at the door. One of the wonderful things about the parables of Jesus is that they give us insight into everyday happenings and circumstances of His day. In Luke 11, Jesus shares a parable about persistence in prayer that begins like this:” 5 And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him.” If the man had known that his friend would arrive (apparently after dark) – he would be prepared.
So – Mary arrives as anyone would in that day… unexpected. When she came into the house, she would have offered a greeting that is also a blessing.. We hear this blessing explained by Jesus when He sends out the 70 in Luke 10 – “5 But whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’” So there is nothing out of the ordinary in how this visit is unfolding… except that both of these women have experienced a wonderful miracle.
Now, the miracles continue – v.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.”
To the modern-day reader of Luke, we may pass over this verse with little more than a slight curiosity. Yet, here is a miracle and the fulfillment of an angelic prophecy. Back when Gabriel spoke to Zacharias by the alter of incense deep in the Temple, he spoke these words about John the Baptizer – “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.’ A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned this is how they described the Old Testament prophets. Let me explain more, because we have a different view of the Holy Spirit today.