DECEMBER 20, 2015
MAIN TEXT: Luke 1: 39-45
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. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
Jesus has come and Jesus will come again!
This truth is at the heart of the Christmas message. His first Advent found some prepared and many who were not. As we await the fulfillment of His promises of the coming second coming, we must be a prepared people – expectant, faithful, humble, waiting, praying, and open for God to use us as He accomplishes His redemption plan.
The Gospel stories of His birth show us two stories – the greater cosmic plan of redemption and God’s establishment of His kingdom on earth and the human stories as God uses them for His purposes. God delights in using the weak, the marginalized, the humble, and those on the fringes of society to play significant roles in His work. The story includes those advanced in years and barren, socially outcast shepherds, and a young teenage girl. Their interactions with one another and God are telling and inspiring.
Our text today tells of the meeting between Mary and Elizabeth, which takes place in the hill country of Judea, somewhere outside of Jerusalem, a three-day journey of some 80-100 miles from Nazareth. For Luke – the significance of the event is that John the Baptist and Jesus meet symbolically through their mothers. John’s starts “pointing” to Jesus even in the womb, just as predicted (verses 15-17). Mary will stay with Elizabeth for three months (verse 56).
Luke aims at the heart with our text. Mary and Elizabeth both possess qualities that should be indicative of all believers. This encounter gives us some clear heart positions that challenge us.
Take God at His Word
This text illustrates Mary’s obedience – it reflects her desire to observe the sign the angel told her about in verse 36. Mary “went with haste” to obey where God is taking her (verse 39).
Upon greeting her relative Elizabeth, we are told, “Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit” (verse 41). This means that God directs Elizabeth’s remarks and emotions. She confirms the blessing upon Mary for taking God at His word in verse 45. Mary “believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord”.
We must believe that God does what He says. This is a major theme of the entire narrative of Jesus’ birth. The Christmas story shows over and over that joy and blessing come to those who believe that God does what He says. God still interrupts our lives –He steps into our human stories – and we should rejoice and trust that He will do as He promised. This type of surrender and trust is contrary to human nature.
Mary’s trust in God’s word was immediate – trusting that all things are possible with God. Her response was remarkable (verse 38). Do you know God’s Word? Do you know His promises? Can you trust His work for your own good even when the circumstances are challenging? (Romans 8:28)
Be amazed at God’s involvement in your life
In the story, the child is at the center of God’s fresh activities. Jesus is still the center of all of God’s activities. It is all about Jesus! God’s great cosmic narrative is the redemption – the restoration – of His creation through His Son Jesus. When He involves us in that plan- we should possess amazement in being a part of God’s astounding events.
Mary and Elizabeth were amazed that they were sharing in the blessings of God. Mary’s song (verses 46-55) reflects this amazement. God was at work – and it was a big work – and He chose to use some willing servants. God is still at work – His plan is way bigger than you or me – and He saves us and calls us into His mission. Ephesians 2:10 says it well,
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
He didn’t save you just to keep you out of hell. He saved you by His grace and adopted you into His missional family – that you might be involved in His work – becoming an ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20).
God owes you nothing
The amazement exists only when humility of heart exists. God owes you nothing. Elizabeth (John the Baptist’s mother) is honored just to be in the presence of Mary and her Lord (verse 43). Elizabeth knows that God does not owe her such a central role in His grand plan. She senses that she does not even deserve to be where she finds herself.
This kind of humility is a natural product of reflection about who God is. A deep sense of respect, awe, and wonder inspires this humility. After all, He is the creator, who is responsible for our being a part of creation. We should appreciate the honor of what it means to know God. We must revel in His grace – undeserved, unmerited, unearned favor. The opposite of humility is entitlement.
You owe Christ everything
We who have trusted Christ owe Him everything. He has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). Romans 12:1 tells us our only reasonable act of response to the grace of Jesus. The posture of Mary and Elizabeth reflects this type of surrender. Living your life in glad service to the One who saved you is the proper response to the Gospel message.
Our entire life should be a reflection of the grace that we have received. Paul paints this picture further in (Romans 12:9-21). There is a cost to being a disciple. Salvation is free but it will cost you everything. There must be a response to our salvation and it cannot be half-hearted. Instead, as a follower of Christ, all of your life is all for Jesus. There is no greater joy than to live a life fully surrendered to the Savior.
May you be filled with Joy!
NEXT WEEK'S PASSAGE: The birth of christ!
APPLY TO LIFE
This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing as you open God’s Word together.
This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.
DISCUSS THE MESSAGE
Take a moment to think about and discuss how God saved you–bringing you to a knowledge of the truth of who Jesus is and what he has done and adopting you into his family.
Do you see the Trinity involved in this passage? How so?
What does it mean that you owe Christ everything? How does this reality affect your life?