Summary: An analysis of the account regarding the visit of Mary to Elizabeth will show us how God confirms our faith.
A few weeks ago I began a new series of sermons in the Gospel of Luke in a study that I am calling “To Seek and To Save the Lost.” Today I would like to study the passage in which Mary visits Elizabeth. Theologians sometimes call this meeting “The Visitation.”
In this passage Luke gives us the first of five nativity hymns. They are: Elizabeth’s Benedicta (1:42-45), Mary’s Magnificat (1:46-55), Zechariah’s Benedictus (1:68-79), the angels’ Gloria (2:14), and Simeon’s Nunc Dimittis (2:29-32). The name for each of these nativity hymns comes from the first word in the Latin translation of the Bible. Bible scholar Graham Scroggie rightly identifies these Christmas carols as “the last of the Hebrew Psalms, and the first of Christmas hymns.” I plan to teach them to you, and then we will learn to sing them as well in the coming weeks.
These songs appear only in Luke’s Gospel, which makes Luke the New Testament church’s first hymnologist. It has been said that “Luke included these lyrics because he understood that the gospel is and must be musical.” Robert Coleman, one of my professors at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, often used to say, with great vigor, “The gospel puts joy in your heart, a spring in your step, and a song on your lips!”
So, let’s read about it in Luke 1:39-45:
39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” (Luke 1:39-45)
I did my military service in the South African Air Force. At that time there were two categories of personnel. Some served as career personnel, and the rest of us served for either one or two years.
As one who served for two years, I did basic training and then was assigned for the remainder of my time to serve as an Air Traffic Controller. I received a commission after one year, and as a two-year man I was not eligible for any further promotion.
Those who were in the military for their careers were eligible for promotion every few years. I think it was in the spring that promotions and reassignments were posted. The career guys became rather anxious in the weeks leading up to the day on which the promotions and reassignments were posted. And there were always lots of rumors flying around about promotions and reassignments.
During my second year I decided to tell the officers in the control tower that I had heard that each one had been promoted and reassigned, but to the place to which he did not want to go! Because rumors were so widespread, they did not know whether or not to believe me. And so for several weeks, I would tease them and get them worried. Happily, however, when the posting finally came, each one got the promotion and reassignment for which he was hoping!