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, thus far, deals a great deal with faith. As I've discussed in the two previous posts, Luke dedicated the book to Theophilus so that he might increase in faith, Zechariah was silenced because he lacked faith even though he was a man of the cloth and Gabriel dealt fairly with Mary's lack of faith because she was an unlearned child. And now, in this selection of verses, we find Mary and Elizabeth, once again, dealing with faith.
In verse 45, Elizabeth declares the Lord's blessings on Mary because she believed that what God said was going to happen was actually going to happen. She had faith.
Now, when an angel of the Lord comes to you in the middle of the night and says, "You are going to birth the Messiah while you are still a virgin," there's one of a few ways you can react:
1) Disbelief - Mary could have very well said, "That is ridiculous. I'm 14, I'm a virgin and I'm not even the most spiritual person I know."
2) Anger - Again, Mary could have very well said, "That is ridiculous! I'm 14, I'm a virgin and I'm not even the most spiritual person I know! I don't want anything to do with this Messiah! This is going to ruin my reputation and alienate me from my friends and family! This is going to cost my life!"
3) Indifference - Mary could have said, "Well, Gabriel, let's not get too excited. I've heard God make promises before that have yet to come to pass. I mean, Israel is still in bondage, am I right? Let's just wait and see what happens."
4) Belief - Mary could have said, "Okay."
While the first three options are completely understandable reactions in Mary's situation, she opted to go with the fourth -- she laid down her life, her pride, her reservations and her doubts and said, "Okay." Because of that, even in her first meeting with someone else, the course of history already started changing.
Luke tells us that as soon as Mary came into contact with Elizabeth, the baby in her womb (John the Baptist) leaped for joy and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Two souls were filled with the Holy Spirit just by being near Jesus -- even as he was in the womb.
I have to believe that it wasn't just Jesus' mere presence that so affected Elizabeth and John, though; I have to believe that it was Elizabeth's faith that earned such a chemical reaction. Consider what Elizabeth said immediately upon seeing Mary: she didn't greet her with hugs and kisses, she didn't just say "Hello" and she didn't invite them in for milk and cookies; she boldly exclaimed, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!" (v41-42)
Elizabeth knew because of her faith and she had faith because she knew. That is what saved her.
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I've been thinking a lot about faith, lately. Anyone who knows me, even moderately well, knows what I've gone through in my 24 years. And I feel like God has promised me so many things that have yet to come to pass. I don't have a job, I'm still single, I'm not out of debt, I haven't traveled, etc., etc. There are so many things that I've yet to see happen.
When I start throwing myself a pity party or when I start casting stones at God, I am now reminded of verse 45: "And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."
I don't feel blessed and, yet, I know I have been blessed -- interesting paradox. In the same way, I know God has spoken to me and, yet, I don't feel as though He is honoring the commitments He made to me.
This leads me to question myself, to check my heart. Is it possible that I am not being blessed because I don't really, truly believe that there will be a fulfillment of what was spoken to me from the Lord? Is it possible that I am the problem? Hmmmm.
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The Magnificat, I feel, is one of those things I simply don't need to write any sort of commentary on, so I will just copy and paste it here. I pray that Mary's praise will serve as a reminder to us who struggle with our faiths that God really is in charge and that He really will fulfill His promises:
46And Mary said,
"My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
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 forever."