Luke 1:39-56

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

April 19, 2000


Old Zacharias and Elizabeth are going to have a baby.  The young gal, Mary has had a visit from an angel telling her that even though she is a virgin, she’s going to become pregnant.  The angel also tells Mary that her older relative, Elizabeth is also going to have a baby.

:39-45  Mary visits Elizabeth

:39 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda;

She wants to visit Elizabeth after learning from Gabriel about her pregnancy.  She heads south to Judah.

The “city of Judah” might be Hebron (Josh 21:11), 80 miles south of Nazareth.

:41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb

leapedskirtao to leap, related to skairo, “to skip”.

Something is happening here between the babies.  One baby is able to recognize the other baby, even though Jesus is still just newly conceived inside of Mary.

It is a grave mistake to think that life doesn’t begin until after birth.  From the moment of conception, a baby is a human life.  Abortion is not the helping of a mother by removing her unwanted problem, it is the taking of a human life.

:41  and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost

Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit in order to understand what is going on between her and Mary.

:42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.


Joy instead of envy

Elizabeth has something incredible happening to her.  She is an old lady, past the time to have children, and here she is being pregnant!  The pregnancy had been accompanied by a miraculous appearance of an angel to her husband while he served in the temple.  To what degree Zacharias has shared with Elizabeth we aren’t sure, but Zacharias has been given great insight into just how special their own child would be. But as amazing as her own story it, she is caught up in joy for what has happened to Mary.
JFB: “What beautiful superiority to envy have we here! High as was the distinction conferred upon herself, Elisabeth loses sight of it altogether, in presence of one more honored still”
Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room.  One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour a day to drain the fluid from his lungs.  His bed was next to the room's only window.  The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.  The men talked for hours on end.  They spoke of their wives and families, their home, their jobs, their  involvement in the military service, where they'd been on vacation.  Every afternoon when the man in the bed next to the window could sit up, he would pass the time and entertain both of them by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.  The man in the other bed would really live for those one-hour periods.  His world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the outside world described by his new friend.  His descriptions of his perspective were great.  The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake with ducks and swans.  Sometimes children sailed their model boats.  The park had flowers of every color of the rainbow, and grand old trees, and squirrels played their games. There was a fine view of the city skyline in the distance.  As the man by the window described all this, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.  One warm afternoon the man by the window described a wedding party taking pictures in the lovely park below.  Later a parade passed by. Evidently a circus was coming to town, and he told about the elephants holding each other's tails as they made their way down the street. Although the other man could not hear the band, he could see it in his minds' eye.  Then an alien thought entered his head.  Why should this other guy have all the pleasure of seeing everything while I never get to see anything?  It didn't seem fair.  As the thought fermented, the man felt ashamed at first.   But as time passed, his envy eroded into resentment and soon turned him sour.  He began to brood and found himself unable to sleep.  He should be by that window and that thought now controlled his life.  Late one night, as he lay staring at the ceiling, the man by the window began to cough.  He was choking on fluid in his lungs. The other man watched in the dimly lit room as the struggling man by the window groped for the button to call for help.  Listening from across the room, he never moved, never pushed his own button, which would have brought the nurse running.  In less than five minutes, the coughing and choking stopped, along with the sound of breathing. Now, there was only silence - deathly silence. The following morning the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths.  She found the lifeless body of the man by the window, and he was taken away.  As soon as it seemed appropriate, the man asked if he could be moved next to the window.  The nurse was happy to make the switch and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.  Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up one elbow to take his first look. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it all himself.  He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed.  It faced a blank, bare wall.

:43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

Note:  Mary is called the “mother of my Lord”, but not “My Lady”.  Jesus is the Lord, Mary is just His mother.

:45 And blessed is she that believed:


Joy comes from believing.

It seems to me that the angel made Mary’s pregnancy conditional upon her faith.  It’s not because of Mary’s great faith that she gets pregnant.
But the blessings, the joy, come from taking God at His word.
(Phil 4:6-7 KJV)  Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. {7} And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

:45  for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord

performanceteleiosis a completing, a perfecting; fulfillment, accomplishment


Witness of the Spirit

We could call this a “confirmation” for Mary’s sake of what she has been told by the angel Gabriel.

:46-56  Mary’s Song

:46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,

magnifymegaluno to make great, magnify; to deem or declare great; to esteem highly, to extol, laud, celebrate

(Psa 103:1-2 KJV)  A Psalm of David. Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. {2} Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:

This is called Mary’s “Magnificat”.

Ryrie: “There are 15 discernible quotations from the OT in this poem, showing how much the OT was known and loved in the home in which Jesus was reared.”

There is a similarity between Mary’s song and that of Hannah when she dedicated little Samuel to the Lord –

(1 Sam 2:1-10 KJV)  And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation. {2} There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God. {3} Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. {4} The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength. {5} They that were full have hired out themselves for bread; and they that were hungry ceased: so that the barren hath born seven; and she that hath many children is waxed feeble. {6} The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up. {7} The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. {8} He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the Lord's, and he hath set the world upon them. {9} He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail. {10} The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the LORD shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed.

:47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

Mary is calling God her Savior.

The Roman Catholic Church teaches a doctrine called the “Immaculate Conception”, which says that Mary herself was born of a virgin, and that Mary never sinned.

If that was the case, why would God be her Savior?  Why would she need a Savior?

:48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

low estatetapeinosis lowness, low estate; spiritual abasement, leading one to perceive and lament his (moral) littleness and guilt.  Robertson: “The bride of a carpenter and yet to be the mother of the Messiah.”

call me blessedmakarizo to pronounce blessed

:49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.

mightydunatos able, powerful, mighty, strong; to be able (to do something); mighty, excelling in something; having power for something

great thingsmegaleios magnificent, excellent, splendid, wonderful

:50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

mercyeleos mercy: kindness or good will towards the miserable and the afflicted, joined with a desire to help them.

(Psa 103:17 KJV)  But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children;

Whether we look at the word “fear” as the idea of pure terror, or the idea of reverential “awe”, the whole point is learning to have a proper respect for God, for who He is and what He can do.
When you have the proper kind of “fear” of God, you will find that He is merciful, not abusive.

:51 He hath showed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

strengthkratos force, strength; power, might: mighty with great power

proudhuperephanos showing one's self above others, overtopping, conspicuous above others, pre-eminent; with an overweening estimate of one's means or merits, despising others or even treating them with contempt.

:52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.

mightydunastes (“dynasty”) – a prince, a potentate; a courtier, high officer, royal minister of great authority

seatsthronos a throne seat

exaltedhupsoo to lift up on high, to exalt

low degreetapeinos – (similar to “low estate” in vs. 48) not rising far from the ground; as a condition, lowly, of low degree; lowly in spirit, humble


God helps the humble.

Be careful when God begins to use you.
(1 Pet 5:5-6 KJV)  …Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. {6} Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:


God’s remedy for pride.

(2 Cor 12:7-10 KJV)  And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. {8} For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. {9} And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. {10} Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
Sometimes we don’t appreciate the difficult times we go through, but sometimes God is using them to help keep us humble.
I wonder if sometimes God won’t allow difficulties to come our way right in the middle of when God is using us most, just for this very purpose, to help keep us on our knees, humble, and trusting in Him.

:53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.


God fills needy hearts.

The Laodiceans – the church that felt it had everything.  Look how Jesus felt about them.
(Rev 3:15-17 KJV)  I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. {16} So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. {17} Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

They make Him sick because they don’t see their own desperate need for Him.  God isn’t going to help those who aren’t willing to admit that they need help.

In contrast –
(John 7:37-39 KJV)  In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. {38} He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. {39} (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

:56 And Mary abode with her about three months

Three more months would put her into Elizabeth’s ninth month.  She probably stayed until John was born.