The Symphony of Christmas is all around us should we have the ears to hear. The birth of Christ has captivated the hearts of millions, and I pray that through the songs revealed in the Book of Luke, it would captivate your heart as well.
In Luke 1:39-45 Mary Visits Elizabeth – “At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
The next movement in the Symphony of Christmas after Mary’s opening, happens as Mary traveled from Nazareth to the hill country of Judea. Rushing to tell her relative Elizabeth of her encounter with God, Mary found another surprise: old Elizabeth was expecting a child of her own! When Elizabeth heard what God had spoken to Mary, the unborn child in her womb leaped for joy and the Holy Spirit came upon Elizabeth. Instantaneously, she broke out in joyful exclamation!
In Elizabeth’s Song, we are given a Spirit-filled reply to Mary that focuses on the blessed consequences of God’s grace in sending Jesus for every believer.
The First Consequence of Christ’s Coming: A Blessing for Women - When Elizabeth learned that her relative Mary was carrying the Messiah of God, she cried out in verse 42 – “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” What is being taught here is the truth that through Mary, women, previously under condemnation for Eve’s role in being the first to fall, and bringing her husband into sin with her, will be liberated. Genesis 3:15, in which God spoke to Satan who led the woman astray, God told that fallen angel “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers: He will crush your head, and you will strike His heel.” Here we see God’s Word providing an early warning to Satan, and a happy word of hope that from woman, the Messiah will come. Continuing in Genesis, the Lord also spoke to the woman in verse 16, and told her “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” In verse 15 we have a word of hope for the woman, but in verse 16, we are given the reason for the hope: in her fallen state, womankind will endure sorrow, pain and oppression. Truth be told, women were often dehumanized and treated like property. It remains that way in many parts of the world today. With Mary bearing the Son of God, we have a fulfillment to the prophecy and the beginning of the reversal of the fallen condition. Elizabeth sings this in verse Luke 1:42 “Blessed are you among women!” Her song accented her God ordained role as the fulfillment of divine prophecy concerning women. The womb of a women will carry the creator of all the universe. Mary’s deliverance will come through the baby she delivers.
The Second Consequence of Christ’s Coming: A Blessing on Humble Servants - In Luke 1:43 Elizabeth continues “But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” It’s easy to observe Elizabeth’s humble spirit as she moved from blessing Mary, to being humbled by Mary’s presence. It must be clearly stated that there have been views of Mary as one who shares a Co-Redemptrix role with Christ – this is no where to be found in scripture; but neither was she just another woman. She was chosen by the Lord to bear the Son of God, and Elizabeth regarded her as such and with honor. It is equally important to note that Elizabeth subsequently gave honor to the Messiah who found it fit to come to her. She was the type of person envisioned by Isaiah when he wrote “Once more the humble will rejoice in the LORD; the needy will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel” - Isaiah 29:19.
There is a powerful blessing for all who see themselves as unworthy, poor in spirit, and needy. The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 18:27 “You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.” The Lord Jesus taught the disciples this truth in Luke 18:10-14. He taught His disciples the importance of one humbling themselves in the presence of God. “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Not only was Elizabeth humbled by Mary's visit, she also understood she was chosen to receive this news. “But why is this granted to me?” Clearly, Elizabeth understood Almighty God had discriminated in bringing the news to her, and not to another. Her humility was all the more underscored by her understanding of this truth.
An automatic response arises in the heart of the humble - when you understand the depravity of your own sin, and the depth and riches of the mercy of God on your soul, you can’t help but fall down and worship God.
The Third Consequence of Christ’s Coming: A Blessing that Defines a Family - In Luke 1:44 we read that as Elizabeth sang when Mary announced the Good News, the unborn John the Baptist leaped in her womb. The Good News of the Messiah shaped the household of Elizabeth, Zechariah and their soon to be baby boy. Here is a glorious consequence of Christ’s coming: every member of the family was impacted by the announcement of the Lord’s salvation. However, it is true, as the Lord said, when one member of the family believes, there maybe others who may not be receptive of the Gospel of Salvation. Regardless, we are called to share the Good News with those in our homes. Luke 1:41 says “the baby in her womb leaped for joy.” When families yield to the Savior’s call, follow Him, and embrace Him as Lord of their homes, there in an inner peace and joy in the home that is unexplainable.
The Only Condition to the Consequences: As we move on with Elizabeth’s Song, we learn there is a condition to all of these consequences. The Blessings begin and end with ‘Faith’. In Luke 1:45 Elizabeth adds her final “Blessed” to the Song. “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her!” Clearly, Elizabeth was blessing Mary, but for what? For 'faith.' What if Mary had not believed? God Himself had worked faith in that young girl, and faith brought all of the joyful consequences mentioned. The Bible teaches us that we are saved by faith and we grow by faith. Hebrews 11:6 says "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek Him." The eyes of faith look to the Lord for His mercy. The hands of faith reach out and claim the promises of Scripture.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, “A little faith will bring your soul to heaven. A great faith will bring heaven to your soul.”
In Frederick Buechner’s deeply moving book on his own life and his own longing for home, The “Longing for Home,” Buechner’s ended with some thoughts about what he called: “The Jesus Who Was” and “The Jesus Who Is.” He wrote that the “Jesus Who Was” is a largely historical figure who came, who lived, who died, and yes, we might add with confessional accuracy, the One who rose again from the dead. But, the “Jesus Who Is” brings vision not only to blind eyes in the Gospels, but to our own narrow and blurred vision. He is not only the Jesus who opens the ears of the deaf, but the One who speaks to our deafened world. As Buechner put it, “a voice unlike all other voices.” Buechner wrote: The "Jesus Who Is" is the one whom we search for even when we do not know that we are searching, and hide from, even when we do not know that we are hiding.”
It is good to consider and ponder Elizabeth’s testimony and Song of Blessings - Who is Jesus? - He is the Son of God, the Dayspring from on high, and the Promised One. He came, He lived, He died, He rose from the grave, He ascended, and He right now by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit stands in our midst. He bids the humble and the needy, even you and me, to open the doors of our lives and invite Him in.
Have you sent out the invitation?