Thursday

08 September 2011

"Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord." (v. 45)

Background

Mary was engaged to Joseph to be married to him when the Angel Gabriel appeared to her and told her she was to have a son and call him Jesus (Luke 1:26-39). It is not surprising that this unmarried pregnant girl ran off to the hills away from the gossip of neighbours - and, perhaps, the initial anger of Joseph.

Elizabeth, her relative, was already six months pregnant (see verse 26) with her miraculous son, John (the Baptist) (Luke 1:1-25). John was to be the forerunner of the messiah, Jesus, and announce his coming. By his leaping in the womb (verse 41), we see his recognition of the other unborn child. Even before he was born, he was pointing out that Jesus was present! Notice also, that this passage gives Elizabeth the accolade of being the first person to say that Jesus is Lord (verse 43).

What is the significance of Mary being related to Elizabeth? Elizabeth was descended from Aaron (Luke 1:5) the high priest - and so, presumably, Mary was also a descendant of Aaron. In this way Jesus can be shown - through Mary - to have the right to become high priest himself. Mary begins her song of praise with words which echo the song of Hannah after the miraculous birth of Samuel (1 Samuel 2:1-10).

Today the Church in the west celebrates the birth of the Virgin Mary. Without Mary's birth, Jesus would not have been born. God needed her to say 'yes' in order for her to be the mother of God's Son. That 'yes' involved not just agreeing to become pregnant and raise a child - but also spending the first part of the pregnancy being treated as a 'loose woman'. Yet Gabriel had called her blessed!

To Ponder

Do you think God would ever ask someone to do something that it was impossible for them to do? Why, or why not?

Which unlikely people have surprised you by pointing you towards God?

Bible notes author: The Revd Neil Cockling

  • Sign up for e-newslettersKeep in touch with what interests you