Mary Visits Elizabeth
39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!"
46 And Mary said:
"My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors."
56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.
The Birth of John the Baptist
57 When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.
59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60 but his mother spoke up and said, "No! He is to be called John."
61 They said to her, "There is no one among your relatives who has that name."
62 Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 63 He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone's astonishment he wrote, "His name is John." 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 The neighbors were all filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. 66 Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, "What then is this child going to be?" For the Lord's hand was with him.
67 His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
68 "Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David
70 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
71 salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us—
72 to show mercy to our ancestors
and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable us to serve him without fear
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79 to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace."
80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel.
- Mary traveled about 50-70 miles from Nazareth to the hill country of Judea in order to see her relative Elizabeth (because the angel Gabriel told her that Elizabeth was also pregnant).
- In Luke 1:15 we are told that Elizabeth’s baby “will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born.” When Mary greeted Elizabeth, her baby leaped.
- More than half a year earlier, Gabriel told Zechariah that his son would “make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Elizabeth – who was also filled with the Holy Spirit – recognized that the baby in Mary’s womb was the Lord that her son would prepare people for. She even calls Mary’s unborn baby her Lord.
- Elizabeth tells Mary that she is blessed to believe God’s promises for her. Mary’s faith seems to be an integral part of her being selected for this most amazing mission – birthing and mothering God.
- Mary responds poetically and prophetically. This response is often referred to as a song called The Magnificant, which comes from the first words of the song in Latin ("Magnificat anima mea," which translates, "My soul magnifies...").
- This is the longest direct quote from any woman in the New Testament.
- This song has about a dozen Old Testament references in it. This clearly indicates that Mary knew the scriptures and had them written on her heart.
- This song (which celebrates God’s goodness, faithfulness, and power) can be divided into 2 parts. In verses 46-49 Mary speaks about how God has blessed her. In verse 50-55 she focuses on how God has dealt with Israel and all humanity.
- Mary studied Scripture in the sense that she heard it read and explained by rabbis during synagogue services. In her day, young women did not have the same opportunities to study Scripture that young men had.
- Mary had arrived when Elizabeth was at least 6 months pregnant (see verse 36). She stays with Elizabeth for 3 more months before returning home. But scripture does not tell us if Mary was present or not when John (the Baptist) was born.
- As promised, Elizabeth had a son.
- According to custom on the 8th day, the baby would be circumcised and named after his father (Zechariah). But Zechariah and Elizabeth know he is supposed to be named John according to God’s command (see LK 1:13).
- Since Zechariah can’t speak, he uses a writing tablet to insist that his son’s name is John. This second chance to believe God’s promise results in Zechariah being able to speak again after at least 9 months of silence. His first words were words praising God.
- The buzz about this miraculous birth filled the countryside. People new this baby was given from God, and people wondered what was in store for him.
- Zechariah speaks in a poetic and prophetic way similar to Mary’s song.
- Zechariah knows and says that his son would announce the coming of the Messiah (v.76). He also announces that salvation will come through forgiveness of sins.
- This verse spans about 30 years. Sometime in his life (maybe as a young adult) he moved to the desert (possibly his elderly parents died.) He lived in the desert until he was in his young thirties when he began his public mission of preparing people for the Messiah.