39In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45And blessed is she who believed that there would be£ a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”–Luke 1:39 – 45 (ESV)
I don’t usually have a lot to say about Mary. I think the Catholics get carried away enough with her as it is. She’s dead and in the dirt somewhere just like everyone else who knew Jesus, just like the rest of us are going to be someday. I knew some folks who were firm adherents to the ‘Cult of Mary’ which is what a good number of Catholics call it. I had some friends who were solid Christians who happened to be Catholic who were concerned about the effect it had on the church at large especially all the ‘Saint’ sightings. St. Doodad’s image was found on a hamburger bun and now it’s a relic. They’re selling it on eBay, I’m sure, and the current bid is around $5K. I don’t know, when I hear stuff like that I’m fairly certain I know what an atheist feels like whenever they get cornered by a bunch of Fundy’s during a revival week—but I digress.
In spite of what anyone else has said about Mary, I think this passage is important. Not because Mary is in it but because it’s in the Bible. It links John and Jesus early and makes me think of Aaron and Moses. “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—Deuteronomy 18:15 (ESV)” But like most images it only goes so far. John and Jesus together here for the first time causes us to look forward to Jesus baptism. Aaron and Moses, think did the same thing but I’m not going down that road right now.
John is leaping at the sound of Mary’s voice because he knew who she was carrying as well. Mary was special in this: that she believed and obeyed. Something beyond her comprehension happened to her but she believed—in spite of the consequences. (Truly that is no more than is expected of us. We are to hear the Word and believe on Jesus. Woe to you if you do not.) It was an awful thing in those days to just ‘turn up pregnant’. She was engaged to Joseph which was as good as being married minus the consummation. It says a lot about his character that he married her anyway. I suppose the angels and the dreams had something to do with it too. God made sure they knew the score. But no one else did. The little old ladies in the square and the tut-tutting family members—now days, to our shame, it happens so often that it isn’t that big of a deal. We live in a small town though and you still hear the rumors and the whispers. I don’t know which is worse…Let’s just be thankful there weren’t any abortion clinics in those days…but I digress again.
One final thing: in v.45 we are reminded of something we often forget. When the Lord speaks, it happens. When we read something in his word, its true, and when we believe it? That’s the blessing.