Luke 1:39-56 Magnificat

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 fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

46 And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
    For behold, from now on 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 for those who fear him
    from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
    and exalted those of humble estate;
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 offspring for ever.”

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

Magnificat

After the confusion of finding themselves pregnant and the mixture of joy or apprehension that must have consumed the women each day, Elizabeth and Mary spark each other into a moment of worship and praise.  Mary speaks words of truth over the baby in her womb, John the Baptist reacts to the presence of Jesus in utero showing a metaphysical connection.

I was told in my undergrad that no-one believed Mary and Elizabeth were cousins any more.  I was told when I woke up this morning that a blogger writes about how she misses the experience of being a Christian now that she has developed her intellect and walked away from the faith.  It seems that people grow out of these stories of virgin pregnancies and rejoicing embryos.  Hegel promoted the idea that faith in God was a step on the path to a life of reason.  Kierkegaard reacted with his book Fear and Trembling.  In that book he shows multiple ways that faith is actually the more mature stance over one of self-referential rationalism.  Why does life work more in harmony with the universe when it is lived in faith?  When tough questions come, why do people often find their faith can not cope? When I was in my undergraduate school, my head ached because the reasons for walking away from the faith were far more extensive for the reasons for continuing.  However, faith carried me forward in some way beyond easy explanation.  I found that the intellects who taught me to be a cynic were actually quite dishonest and only recently do I see the pattern of the elevation of man in the extensive body of faithless theology.  

There is a faith that rejoices in the miracle and the improbable.  It is not a blind faith that eliminates thought as subversive.  It is a faith that entertains reason, but does not worship at its altar.  It worships at the throne of grace and sees joy in God’s provision, even when the good is hidden from plain sight.

Prayer

My soul magnifies the Lord,
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
    For behold, from now on 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 for those who fear him
    from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
    and exalted those of humble estate;
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 offspring for ever.”

Questions

  1. Who meets in this passage (beyond the obvious)?
  2. How do all four parties react?
  3. Why do you think some believe a relationship between Elizabeth and Mary is fabricated?
  4. How do you react to the idea of God’s incarnation?
  5. How would you respond to those who doubt these events happened?

 

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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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