Advent 04 - Luke 1:39-45 - The Visitation
Luke 1:39–45 - Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah, 40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 “And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? 44 “For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. 45 “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.”
John Knows Jesus - The angel Gabriel has already given the “Annunciation” to Mary (1:31-33): “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus . . .” John is now in utero and about six months old (1:26). Mary goes to the home of Zacharias and Elizabeth. When Mary greets Elizabeth, John leaps for joy. Gabriel made clear, John “will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb” (1:15). From this we learn that infant children (even in utero) are persons and as persons can know and trust the Lord. Notice that this filling does not depend on a sacrament (contra, Rome and Orthodoxy), rather spiritual life is present and the sacrament (whether circumcision or baptism testifies to this covenant life). This is consistent with the OT language of “infant faith” (Ps. 22:9; 71:5–6).
Elizabeth Knows Jesus - Elizabeth is also filled with the Spirit in the presence of her unborn Lord. She knows Jesus through the Spirit and according to the Word of promise that has been received. She pronounces the unique blessing on Mary as, “Blessed are you among women” (1:42), since she has the unique role as mother of our Lord. Elizabeth also blesses Mary for her faith, “blessed is she who believed” (1:45). The famous “Hail Mary” (Ave Maria) prayer is drawn from this passage and “Greetings (rejoice/hail), favored one! The Lord is with you” (1:28). Going beyond the text of Scripture and erroneously encouraging prayer to Mary, it was Girolamo Savonarola (1495) who added language: ”Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.” The current version of the “Hail Mary” prayed was approved at Trent and by Pope Pious V (1568).
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more