20 December 2015

Luke 1:39-45

“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” (v. 42)

Psalm: Psalm 80


Luke begins his Gospel with an account of the birth, first of John the Baptist, then of Jesus, and today's passage is part of that account. Those who are following these readings from day to day will find the sequence odd: tomorrow's passage will take us back to the preceding paragraph in Luke and the announcement to Mary of Jesus' coming birth. The reason is that the Sunday passages are arranged throughout the year on a different cycle from the weekly ones. They do not always fit together easily!

Elizabeth, Mary's relative, is already six months pregnant and the child moves in the womb at the sound of Mary's voice. Already the unborn John recognises the unborn Jesus as the greater one sent by God (compare Luke 3:16).

The key notes in Elizabeth's response are her intuition that Mary's child will be greater than her's, and her joy. Both the intuition and the joy are the gift of God's Spirit.

These notes Luke will repeatedly sound as his Gospel unfolds. John is important in preparing the ground for Jesus, but it is Jesus who will bring the joy of salvation.

To Ponder

  • How can you recover the spontaneity of Elizabeth's joy, especially if the Christmas story is so familiar?
  • What part do you think Elizabeth and Mary may have played in the development of their sons as they grew up?


Bible notes author

The Revd Brian Beck

Brian Beck is a Methodist minister, now retired, and a former president and secretary of the Methodist Conference. A large part of his ministry has been spent in theological education, both in Limuru, Kenya, and in Cambridge, England..