Summary: Blessed Hope though: 1) Personal Confirmation (Luke 1:39–40), 2) Physical Confirmation (Luke 1:41a, 44), and 3) Prophetic Confirmation (Luke 1:41b–43, 45).
So far in 2015, 14,472 Albertans have lost their jobs in group layoffs. Everybody expects more layoffs to come. Earlier this month, the Calgary Herald asked people to share their stories about being laid off. Some wrote of worsening financial hardships. Others wrote of desperately trying to sell homes in a bad real estate market because they could no longer pay the mortgage. Others were stunned to find themselves at the food bank. New graduates fear they will never get a job in their field. Some fear they are slipping into depression. (http://business.financialpost.com/news/energy/laid-off-calgarians-losing-hope-as-prospects-dwindle-and-money-runs-short)
The news of continual declining oil prices has meant shock and layoffs. Yet some cling to hope for times to come in spite of such shocking news. People are looking for a sign of hope. In Luke 1, Elizabeth was a sign of hope for the troubled nation of Israel. The sign, communicated by the Angel Gabriel, was another conception miracle. Luke’s gospel record opens with the stories of two conception miracles, one involving a barren, older woman past childbearing age, and the other a young, unmarried virgin in her early teens. The child of the first would be the forerunner of the Messiah, John the Baptist; the second would be the Messiah Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Hope is essential for living at any time, especially in times of adversity and testing. Hope is living with a firm hold on the promise of life and salvation. Hope is the gift of looking forward with confidence, knowing that even if the future entails suffering, even unto death, it will be okay because Christ has gone on ahead. To hope is to have a secure future and know one has it (Martin, E. D. (1993). Colossians, Philemon (p. 87). Scottdale, PA: Herald Press.).
Luke’s brief description of Mary’s meeting with Elizabeth emphasizes God’s confirmation of His promise to a people who needed hope. The account reveals three aspects of that Blessed Hopethough: 1) Personal Confirmation (Luke 1:39–40), 2) Physical Confirmation (Luke 1:41a, 44), and 3) Prophetic Confirmation (Luke 1:41b–43, 45).
1) Hope through Personal Confirmation(Luke 1:39–40)
Luke 1:39-40 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. (ESV)
Eager to see the promised sign, Mary wasted no time in setting out to visit her older relative Elizabeth. The phrase in those days/at this time refers to the time of Gabriel’s visit. That and Luke’s note that she went with haste/in a hurry indicates that Mary immediately dropped everything to make the trip south to Judea to see Elizabeth, who was by that time six months pregnant (v. 36). Since she stayed with Elizabeth for three months (v. 56), Mary evidently returned home around the time of the birth of John the Baptist (v. 57). Mary’s departure reflects an instant response to God’s leading (Bock, D. L. (1994). Luke: 1:1–9:50 (Vol. 1, p. 134). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.).