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Monday, September 14, 2009

Day 2 September 14: Luke 1.39-80

My commentary appears after the text:

Luke 1.39-80

39In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. 45And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” 46And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 52He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; 53he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. 54He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” 56And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

57Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. 59On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. 60But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.” 61They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.” 62Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. 63He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And all of them were amazed. 64Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. 65Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. 66All who heard them pondered them and said, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him.
67Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy: 68“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them. 69He has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David, 70as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, 71that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us. 72Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant, 73the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham, to grant us 74that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, 75in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. 76And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, 77to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. 78By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, 79to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” 80The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.

Commentary: It seems to me that Elizabeth hits the proverbial nail on the head when in verse 45 she suggests that Mary's uniqueness comes through her "Hearing and Obeying." That is she seems to have actually believed that God was able and willing to do that which he had promised. We are not yet to Mary's great song and already I feel a bit ashamed at how often I reflect Zechariah not Mary! I too hear the words of God: Love your enemies and pray for them, the one who would be first must be last, through him all things are possible, and instead of hearing and obeying, I often hear and forget!

Verse 46 begins the "Magnificat" so named because that is the first word in the Latin translation. Often in the Old Testament women of faith break into song in response to God's mighty deeds: Mirian, Deborah and Hannah all do this. Now we have Mary singing/speaking about God's faithfulness, she is in many ways the link between the great women of the Old Testament and the great women of the church. (Just as John will be the link between the prophets of old and the new thing that God does in Jesus). However, listen carefully to Mary's address: The salvation of the world is going to upset business as usual. This inbreaking of God's kingdom will bring many who thought they were outside of God's love, in; but it will humble and challenge many who thought they knew who God loved. Afterall, even the choice of Mary, an unwed (she was betrothed/engaged) teenager hardly seems to be the means by which God will enter the world!

1 comment:

  1. 50-55 My! Mary knows a lot! It feels like her voice is more the author's than the girl's, not that it is hard to reconcile the girl, the author, and the Author. Also, if the Lord can create life in a virgin womb, He can certainly expand her perspective beyond her probable state of mind. So, reading now the commentary, maybe Mary would have a broad scope of the works of God in the world, beyond her experience, as you say the women sang, I'm guessing as an oral tradition to convey tribal knowledge.